Statement: New bill to tackle Ireland’s failure to combat human trafficking

Green Party TD Patrick Costello will introduce a bill on Thursday 27th January aimed at tackling Ireland’s failure to combat human trafficking and to implement measures protecting victims of trafficking. The private members bill has been drafted in response to Ireland’s ongoing failure to support vulnerable victims of trafficking and the state’s embarrassing downgrade to the Tier 2 Watchlist in the 2021 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report produced by the US State Department, which ranks countries on their handling and response to human trafficking.

Deputy Costello said “between 2015 and 2019, An Garda Síochána identified 293 adult victims of human trafficking and 25 child victims of human trafficking. However, the Global Slavery Index estimated there are c.8,000 victims of trafficking in Ireland. Since the Trafficking Act was amended in 2013, traffickers have acted with impunity in Ireland with only a single criminal case leading to just 2 convictions being handed down for human trafficking”.

He continued: “This bill is designed to boost early identification of victims of trafficking and increase the likelihood of early interventions to take victims out of situations of exploitation. The enhancements it adds therefore have a humanitarian basis and work to protect Ireland’s reputation internationally and show that as a State we are working to combat human trafficking”.

The US State Department Tier 2 watchlist status for Ireland highlights the state’s failure to combat trafficking which leaves vulnerable people at risk. This is echoed by Maynooth University research into the exploitation of migrant workers in the fishing industry and a 2015 high court judgement which found Ireland did not comply with EU law towards victims of human trafficking.

Deputy Costello concluded: “Failure to comply with minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; and failure to make significant efforts to bring Ireland into compliance with the Trafficking in Persons standards may result in Ireland being demoted to Tier 3 in the TIP Report which could trigger sanctions, aid-restrictions, and trade-restrictions. Ireland has been warned that its anti-trafficking mechanisms are sub-standard, and this bill takes several actions as recommended by the TIP report to reverse Ireland’s downward trend in the report’s classifications”.