Irish/UK politicians demand more prosecutions against human traffickers

Just 48 successful prosecutions in England were taken in 2011

The number of prosecutions taken against human traffickers in Ireland and the UK must be significantly increased, according to British and Irish politicians.

"It is clear that there are too few convictions for human trafficking," a report from the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly (BIPA) published yesterday in London said. The assembly is made up of backbench TDs, MPs, members of the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly, along with representatives from the Isle of Man and Channel Islands.

Just 48 successful prosecutions in England were taken in 2011, while only two convictions were secured in Northern Ireland between 2009 and 2011. In Scotland, only two cases have ever been prosecuted. However, BIPA welcomed recent changes to Irish law which broaden the legal definition of forced labour and to expand the evidence that can be used by prosecutors.

The conviction of Irishman, Thomas Carroll, who was jailed in Wales for running a cross-border prostitution ring from Cardiff, showed the benefits of co-operation between Irish and British officials. The BIPA committee raised concerns about the implications of the British Government's plan to pull out of some elements of EU-led justice co-operation.

"(The)negotiations regarding applicable Justice and Home Affairs measures should not jeopardise the continued use of Joint Investigation Teams provided for under Europol and Eurojust," it said. Urging prosecutions to be taken wherever possible against traffickers, BIPA urged caution about prosecuting victims for offences they commit while being trafficked, such as prostitution.

“Their exploitation should constitute a mitigating factor. Prosecutors should be trained to recognise the signs of trafficking to identify those who may be being unfairly prosecuted,” it said.