Irish woman to lead international anti-trafficking group

Prof Siobhán Mullally of UCC elected president of Council of Europe expert group

Professor Siobhan Mullally f has been elected president of the Council of Europe’s group Greta. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Professor Siobhan Mullally f has been elected president of the Council of Europe’s group Greta. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times


Irish law professor Siobhán Mullally has been elected president of an international body of experts working against human trafficking.

The 47-nation Council of Europe’s group Greta announced her election to the role on Thursday.

Greta is responsible for assessing countries’ compliance with the 2005 Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, which commits signatory countries to a range of measures to help prevent human trafficking, protect victims and prosecute offenders.

The convention has so far been ratified by 46 Council of Europe member states plus non-member Belarus. Ireland signed it in July 2007 and ratified it in October 2010.

Prof Mullally said Greta’s work was particularly significant in the context of the current migration and refugee situation in Europe and the particular risks faced by children.

She said the instrument was “a key tool in international efforts to tackle human trafficking, covering countries of origin, countries of transit and countries of destination”.

“Through its monitoring efforts, and working closely together with national authorities, Greta has already helped to bring about significant changes in many different countries,” she said.

“I am delighted to be able to help drive that progress forward in the coming years.”

Ms Mullally is Professor of Law and Director of the Centre for Criminal Justice and Human Rights at University College Cork.

She is also a Commissioner on the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, and a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.

Many states have taken steps to improve their anti-trafficking legislation, policy and practice on foot of Greta recommendation.

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald TD, launched Ireland’s Second National Action Plan to Prevent and Combat Human Trafficking in October last year.

“Human trafficking is a complex issue with a diverse range of victims and circumstances. In Ireland, we have seen instances of trafficking for sexual exploitation and labour exploitation,” she said in the report.

But she said the hidden nature of trafficking made it difficult to gain an accurate picture of its true scale and nature.

“While it is impossible to truly know the full scope and impact of this problem at the international or domestic level, we do know from our experience to date that women and children are the primary victims – overwhelmingly so for sexual exploitation but also for forced labour – however, men are not immune to this crime.”