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New Action Plan To Prevent & Combat Human Trafficking Launched Today.

The third National Action Plan to combat human trafficking was launched today.

The Plan aims to work towards ending human trafficking in the Irish State, as a key element of building stronger, safer communities.
A number of Government Departments, including An Garda Síochána, TUSLA and the HSE will all have significant roles to play in the implementation of the Action Plan to combat this criminal activity and support victims.

Its actions will include:

  • Establishment of a new National Referral Mechanism, which will make it easier for victims to come forward, be identified and access support. It will ensure that victims can come forward to a range of agencies and not just An Garda Siochana as is currently the case. This is in recognition of the fact that victims may, due to experiences in their own countries, not trust police services.
  • New and widespread training for all who may come into contact with victims of human trafficking across Departments and State agencies. This will include the Border Management Unit, as well as health and social care professionals, and Civil Registration Services staff working in the HSE.
  • Ongoing development of training, through NGOs, targeting front line staff in industries such as hospitality, airline and shipping who may come into contact with trafficked persons.
  • Ensure effective anti-trafficking screening measures are in place at point of entry to the State
  • Establish dedicated accommodation for victims of trafficking.
  • Expand the funding, use and awareness of cultural mediators and accompaniment services
  • Provide victims of trafficking with protection from deportation.
  • Provide exit pathways for individuals impacted by prostitution who may be vulnerable to trafficking for sexual exploitation.
  • Continue to raise awareness through materials available in languages of recognised victims of human trafficking, and making information available in healthcare and other settings.
  • The HSE Anti Human Trafficking Team will develop an online presence for reaching vulnerable and ‘hard to reach’ victims with a view to increasing access to medical and social care services.
  • Ensure that all professionals in contact with children, and working on child related matters, are qualified in dealing with and recognising victims of trafficking and act in the child’s best interest.

The ultimate goals of this Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy is to create a more victim-centred approach to identifying and supporting victims, to raise awareness and provide training for those who need it and to prevent, detect and prosecute the culprits of this abhorrent crime.

The key objectives that the Plan will aim to achieve include:

Work towards the abolishment of human trafficking and its demand.
Identify and provide supports to victims of trafficking.
Enforce the rights of the victim and bring perpetrators to justice.
Ensure whole-of-Government co-ordination in supporting victims and decreasing incidents of trafficking.

In 2022, a total of 42 victims were formally identified by An Garda Síochána. Most victims are trafficked in to the State for sexual exploitation. Trafficking for labour exploitation also makes up a significant number of victims.

A report by the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Project on the Island of Ireland published by Mary Immaculate College in Limerick in 2021 suggests that the true incidence of human trafficking in the State may be 38% higher than the official figure.

The Report was supported by the Departments of Justice in this State and Northern Ireland, as well as An Garda Síochána and the PSNI.

An Garda Síochána report that 1,000 to 1,600 women are engaged in prostitution in any one year in Ireland and that prostitution and human trafficking are inextricably linked.

In September 2021 the first convictions in Ireland for human trafficking were handed down by the Courts, and there are a number of other human trafficking investigations ongoing by An Garda Síochána.

The actions in this plan fall under four Preventative Pillars:

  • Prevention of human trafficking by working towards stronger protections for vulnerable people and the elimination of the demand for the services of trafficked persons.
  • Identifying and providing supports to victims of trafficking.
  • Enforcing the rights of the victim and bringing perpetrators to justice.
  • Support evidence-based research on human trafficking.

Already, work is underway and specific elements of this issue are being examined as part of the Government’s Zero Tolerance Strategy to combat DSGBV. A number of significant measures to create a more victim-centred approach to identifying and supporting victims and to raise awareness and provide training, have been introduced.

In addition to the new National Action Plan, other ongoing initiatives which will help combat human trafficking include the improvements being made to the Criminal Justice System to support victims through the implementation of Supporting a Victim’s Journey.

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