Last Updated: Thursday, 17 April 2014, 13:11 GMT

2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Ireland

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 19 June 2012
Cite as United States Department of State, 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Ireland, 19 June 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4fe30cbfc.html [accessed 21 April 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

IRELAND (Tier 1)

Ireland is a destination, source, and transit country for women, men, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Sex trafficking victims originate in Eastern Europe, African countries including Nigeria, South America, and Asia. Adult labor trafficking victims are reportedly from South America, Eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa. Forced labor victims are found in domestic service and restaurant work. According to local reporting, within the last several years some victims have been subjected to domestic servitude by foreign diplomats on assignment in Ireland. According to NGO experts, children are subjected to prostitution in various cities in Ireland, including Kilkenny, Cork, and Dublin.

The Government of Ireland fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government took important steps to investigate and prevent domestic servitude among employees of diplomats posted in Ireland. During the year, the government prosecuted and convicted a sex trafficker for the prostitution of a minor. The government, however, has yet to fully prosecute and convict any trafficking offenders, as defined by international standards using the country's 2008 anti-trafficking law. The government developed victim-centered care plans for many trafficking victims, provided holistic care through the provision of temporary residency permits and associated services, and continued to provide funding to NGOs that provided specialized assistance to trafficking victims. All identified victims received services regardless of immigration status. However, the majority of trafficking victims from non-EU countries received services and pursued refugee status through Ireland's asylum process, which NGOs criticize as resulting in inadequate care and insufficient protection of victims' rights, in comparison to the provisions specific to trafficking victims.

Recommendations for Ireland: Vigorously implement Ireland's 2008 anti-trafficking law to ensure labor and sex trafficking offenders are held accountable; consider drafting an amendment to explicitly criminalize forced labor and other forms of compelled service with a view toward increasing efforts to implement the 2008 anti-trafficking law; explore and enhance NGOs' roles in the victim identification process; ensure proactive screening for trafficking during asylum intake interviews; ensure all potential trafficking victims, regardless of immigration status, are afforded an official recovery and reflection period to make an informed decision about whether to assist law enforcement; ensure asylum-seeking trafficking victims who are cooperating with law enforcement have accurate information on the support they may qualify for under Ireland's explicit provisions for trafficking victims, and ensure they are aware this is an option they can pursue; expand legal aid beyond representation during trials for victims assisting law enforcement; continue educating potential clients of prostitution about the linkage between prostitution and trafficking; and consider establishing a national anti-trafficking rapporteur or similar entity to encourage more self-critical assessments to improve law enforcement and victim protection.

Prosecution

The Government of Ireland sustained its efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenders in 2011. The government prohibits all forms of trafficking through its 2008 Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act; however, to date no trafficking offenders have been successfully convicted under this law. Penalties prescribed range from no imprisonment to life imprisonment, a range that is sufficiently stringent and commensurate with punishments prescribed for other serious offenses, such as rape. During the year, NGOs advocated for the offenses of forced labor and servitude to be clarified and for the law to explicitly provide that such offenses need not include movement in order to constitute trafficking offenses.

The government investigated 53 new trafficking cases in 2011, including 12 labor trafficking cases, compared with 75 cases investigated in 2010, and it prosecuted nine suspected sex, and no labor, trafficking offences. The government continued its investigation of an officer for trafficking-related complicity initiated in November 2010. According to an NGO review of the National Action Plan in June 2011, the low number of prosecutions for trafficking contributes to an underestimation of the severity of the trafficking problem in the country.

Although the government reported four trafficking convictions in 2011, only one conviction involved a human trafficking offense consistent with international standards. In the trafficking case, a Nigerian woman who subjected a 16-year-old girl to exploitation in prostitution received a sentence of four years' imprisonment, with two of the years suspended. The other cases reported by the government involved sexual assault without commercial exploitation, organized prostitution of adults without force, fraud, or coercion, or solicitation of pornographic images of children without a commercial sex act. The Government of Ireland continued to provide specialized, ongoing anti-trafficking training for law enforcement officers and other front-line responders.

Protection

During the reporting period, the Irish government maintained its protection efforts for trafficking victims and administered victim-centered care plans to many trafficking victims. The government provided a total amount equivalent to $412,000 to NGOs providing specialized services for victims of sex and labor trafficking and referred victims to these NGOs. Victims who were not nationals of EU countries received care and social services as directed by special provisions called administrative immigration arrangements for victims of human trafficking. Trafficking victims in the asylum process receive services as directed by the asylum provisions. A 2011 NGO paper criticized the system of care available to asylum seeking trafficking victims and called for the abolition of the practice of housing nationals of non-EU countries in mixed gender asylum centers, citing the risk of exacerbating trafficking-related trauma; this paper also noted long-term residence in asylum hostels hinders victims' recovery and compounds mental health issues. While other benefits, such as medical care, education, and vocational training apply to all victims, anti-trafficking NGOs in Ireland reported critical distinctions based on a victim's nationality made by government service providers and influencing the overall quality of support offered to a victim, specifically immigration benefits, availability of long-term housing, and the right to work.

The Irish government identified 57 potential victims in 2011, a decrease from 78 victims identified in 2010. The government reported the use of systematic procedures to guide officials in the identification and referral of victims, though NGOs assessed that better institutional cooperation among key stakeholders is needed in order to identify victims and ensure they benefit from assistance programs. During the year, police referred 29 potential trafficking victims, six of whom were identified as victims of labor trafficking, to government social workers who prepared victim-centered care plans for their assistance. Under the administrative immigration arrangements for victims of human trafficking, the government provided one foreign victim with a 60-day reflection period – time to receive immediate care and assistance while considering whether or not to assist law enforcement. The government reported at least 25 suspected trafficking victims cooperated with law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers in 2011. While victim cooperation is generally viewed as positive for anti-trafficking efforts, local experts noted concerns about the potentially negative impact on asylum-seeking trafficking victims' ongoing cooperation in lengthy cases without formal recognition or identification by authorities that they are 'suspected' victims, as well as potential threats from traffickers.

Victims from non-EU countries were eligible to remain in Ireland for up to three years under Ireland's temporary residency permit. The government granted one victim a temporary residency permit in 2011, compared with five temporary permits issued in 2010, and it renewed 18 temporary residency permits for trafficking victims. Other victims were either in the asylum process or did not require residency permits because they were from Ireland or other EU countries. The government reported that no identified trafficking victims were subjected to deportation from Ireland and there were no cases of trafficking victims being criminalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of their being trafficked. Despite this, NGOs continued to voice concerns that unidentified victims may have been inadvertently deported or punished for crimes committed while under coercive control of their traffickers.

Prevention

The government sustained its anti-trafficking prevention efforts. It re-launched a regional Blue Blindfold campaign in Ireland aimed at targeting potential victims and reducing the demand for sex trafficking. The Irish Justice Department's anti-trafficking unit continued to coordinate the country's efforts; a high-level inter-departmental group also functioned as a coordinating mechanism. The government did not report on any prevention measures targeted at reducing the vulnerability of unaccompanied foreign minors to trafficking. The Department of Defense provided ongoing anti-trafficking training for all Irish troops prior to their deployment abroad as part of international peacekeeping missions.

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