IRELAND (Tier 2)
Ireland is a destination and, to a lesser extent, transit country for women, men, and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Women from Eastern Europe, Nigeria, other parts of Africa and, to a lesser extent, South America and Asia reportedly have been trafficked to Ireland for forced prostitution. Labor trafficking victims reportedly consist of men and women from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Egypt, and the Philippines, although there may also be some victims from South America, Eastern Europe, and other parts of Asia and Africa. One Irish NGO reported that forced labor victims are found in domestic labor and restaurant and agricultural work. Unaccompanied minors from various source countries, particularly China, are vulnerable to trafficking. Over the last eight years, 388 unaccompanied immigrant children have disappeared from state care. While Irish authorities believe the majority of these children have been reunited with family members, the government reported that a small number of the missing children have been found in involuntary servitude in brothels, restaurants, and in domestic service.
The Government of Ireland does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government enacted legislation criminalizing human trafficking during the reporting period, increased trafficking awareness efforts, and investigated nearly 100 cases of potential trafficking. Although Ireland made significant strides, there was no evidence that trafficking offenders were prosecuted or convicted during the reporting period, and concerns remained about victim identification and protection.
Recommendations for Ireland: Vigorously prosecute trafficking offenses and convict and sentence trafficking offenders; continue to implement procedures to guide officials in proactive identification of possible sex and labor trafficking victims among vulnerable groups, such as unaccompanied foreign minors; continue to take steps that will ensure trafficking victims are not penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked; and continue prevention measures targeted at reducing the vulnerability of the unaccompanied foreign minor population to trafficking.
The Government of Ireland made significant progress in improving its anti-trafficking legislative tools and in training personnel to combat human trafficking, but there were no documented prosecutions of trafficking offenders during the reporting period The Government of Ireland prohibits all forms of trafficking through the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act, enacted in 2008. Penalties prescribed range from no prescribed minimum to life imprisonment, which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with punishments prescribed for rape. In 2008, the Government initiated 96 investigations into alleged human trafficking offenses. The government reported no prosecutions or convictions under its human trafficking statute in 2008. One defendant was convicted and sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment in 2007 for sexual violence offenses against two victims, one of whom might have been in domestic servitude. The government reported that it cooperated with other countries on international anti-trafficking investigations and arrested three people wanted in other European countries on trafficking charges. In conjunction with IOM, the government trained more than 770 police officers and 130 other government officials, including airport authorities, on anti-trafficking law enforcement techniques.
Ireland provided limited protection and assistance to trafficking victims during 2008. The government disbursed funds for one NGO that works with sex trafficking victims, and to which the government referred suspected trafficking victims. Suspected victims of trafficking may also receive housing and services under the state program for asylum seekers. In December, the anti-trafficking working group formalized procedures for the referral of victims to NGOs, which will be codified in the National Action Plan. Irish officials also referred trafficking victims to NGOs providing food, shelter, health care, and legal assistance or to immigrant detention centers. The government assessed child victims' needs individually and placed the majority of child victims in the care of the government's Health Service Executive. As a result of the problem of missing unaccompanied minors, the government upgraded security at some of the residential housing units in which they were placed and trained health department officials working with these children in proactive trafficking victim identification efforts. The government encouraged victims to participate in investigations and prosecutions of trafficking offenders through witness protection measures and a 60-day reflection period – both newly designed government incentives. The government provided temporary legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims during the reflection period, and longer term residency arrangements are possible. One of the lead anti-trafficking NGOs in Ireland publicly expressed concerns that the Irish government does not recognize all signs of trafficking as it screens suspected trafficking victims, though this concern was not unanimous among NGOs. Out of 40 suspected human trafficking victims referred to police during the reporting period, two were granted the 60-day reflection period by authorities. Of the remainder, all reside legally in Ireland. The police did not report the existence of any other victims during the reporting period. There was evidence during the year that potential trafficking victims were penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of their being trafficked. One suspected victim spent several months in jail for failing to provide proof of identification, though she claimed she had been forced into prostitution in Ireland.
Ireland made significant progress in prevention efforts during the reporting period. In October, the government launched a broad awareness campaign using the "Blue Blindfold – Don't Close Your Eyes to Human Trafficking" theme developed by the UK Human Trafficking Centre. Ireland held the lead role in the G6 anti-trafficking campaign, which included newspaper advertisements on four separate dates, distribution of 1,250 information packs to various government and civic organizations, advertising on mass transit, Internet advertisements, business cards distributed to hairdressers, advertisements in rugby programs, and a dedicated website. The Irish government produced a short film and advertisement designed to educate potential clients of the sex trade about human trafficking and to draw attention to the criminal liability these clients potentially face for exploiting trafficking victims. Ireland coordinated its government response to human trafficking through a specially created unit in the Justice Department. The director of the government's anti-trafficking unit has addressed numerous conferences within Ireland and has created pages on Internet social networking sites. The new law criminalizing human trafficking provides for extraterritorial jurisdiction over Irish residents who engage in child sex tourism abroad. Ireland's Department of Defense provided anti-trafficking training of Irish troops being deployed abroad as peacekeepers. Ireland has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.