Ireland can help tackle human trafficking


Sir, – Yesterday (July 30th) marked World Day Against Human Trafficking, 20 years after a United Nations agreement to rid the world of this crime.

Often misunderstood or conflated with people smuggling, human trafficking does not require a border or movement and in the case of children, threats, force, deception or coercion are irrelevant.

It is a crime where people are exploited for forced labour, servitude, sexual services, their organs or forced criminality. With 40 million victims worldwide, one in four a child, generating over $150 billion in criminal assets each year, trade is booming.

Nearly every UN member state now legislates for this as serious crime, in Ireland it holds a potential life sentence.

Yet the 2020 US Trafficking in Person Report reveals globally only one in every 2,150 victims will see their trafficker convicted and in Ireland there is yet to be a single conviction, so impunity is almost a certainty.

As organised criminals trade in human suffering across Europe, the UN Security Council debates extremists using slave markets as a means of fund raising, selling women and girls into lives of rape, torture and servitude; and as business supply chains across the world are “tainted” with forced labour, Ireland is deemed to be among the worst responding nations in the EU and placed on the “watch list” for consideration as a failing state where sanctions can be imposed by the US State Department.

Urgent change is needed, with victim protection, pursuit of criminals, stripping of assets and prevention needed as part of a cross-government strategy.

Global Ireland has great potential and opportunity especially on the Security Council. Taking leadership to end impunity, speaking for 40 million victims and stripping the $150 billion in “blood money” would make a global difference Ireland could be truly proud of. – Yours, etc,


(Former UK Senior Police

Officer, UK Anti-Slavery

Commissioner & currently

Ireland’s member Council of

Europe Expert Group

Against Trafficking),