IRELAND (Tier 1)
Ireland is a destination and, to a lesser extent, transit country for women, men, and children subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically forced prostitution and forced labor. According to one NGO, the majority of sex trafficking victims found in Ireland during the reporting period originated in Nigeria. Multiple NGOs reported the increasing use of the Internet in moving victims off the street and into private venues, making them harder to identify. Labor trafficking victims reportedly consisted of men and women from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Egypt, and the Philippines, though there may also be some victims from South America, Eastern Europe, and other parts of Asia and Africa. Forced labor victims reportedly were found in domestic service, restaurant, and agricultural work. Unaccompanied minors from various source countries were vulnerable to trafficking. The government reported that some children who have gone missing from state care have been found in brothels, restaurants, and private households where they may have been exploited. Of the 47 children who were reported missing from state care in 2009, nine were recovered; authorities believed at least one of the nine may have been trafficked.
The Government of Ireland fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Over the past several years, the government has made substantial strides in acknowledging Ireland's human trafficking problem and implementing legislation and policies to punish trafficking offenders and protect trafficking victims.
Recommendations for Ireland: Vigorously prosecute labor and sex trafficking offenses and convict and sentence trafficking offenders; explore ways to enhance usage of the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act of 2008; continue to train officials in the implementation of nascent, formal victim identification and referral procedures to ensure victims receive appropriate services; ensure the provision of specialized services for adult and child trafficking victims, including secure shelter with personnel trained in assisting trafficking victims and funding for NGOs assisting both sex and labor trafficking victims; continue prevention measures targeted at reducing the vulnerability of unaccompanied foreign minors to trafficking; and establish a national anti-trafficking rapporteur to draft critical assessments of Ireland's efforts to punish traffickers, protect victims, and prevent new incidents of human trafficking.
The Government of Ireland made progress in its prosecution of sex trafficking offenses during the reporting period. Ireland prohibited all forms of trafficking through the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act, enacted in 2008. Penalties prescribed range from no imprisonment to life imprisonment, a range that is sufficiently stringent and commensurate with punishments prescribed for rape. In 2009, the government initiated 68 human trafficking investigations and reported four prosecutions of trafficking offenders. The government also assisted with three prosecutions in Romania as well as three prosecutions in Wales. This activity contrasts with no prosecutions conducted by the Irish government during the previous reporting period. There were three convictions of sex trafficking offenders in Ireland during the reporting period under statutes different from the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act of 2008, compared with no convictions during the previous year. One trafficking offender received no punishment but the others each received six years in prison. There were no convictions of labor trafficking offenders in Ireland during the reporting period. In November 2009, police arrested a police officer for alleged trafficking; the case was in the investigation stage at the end of the reporting period. Military police investigated one reported trafficking case involving an Irish soldier on an overseas mission but determined it was not an instance of human trafficking. The government provided specialized anti-trafficking training for authorities in multiple agencies, including more than 350 members of the Irish police. Ireland forged partnerships with at least six European countries to share anti-trafficking best practices in addition to partnerships built with other governments on specific trafficking cases.
The Irish government demonstrated some progress in protecting victims during the reporting period. The government formalized procedures to guide officials in the identification and referral of victims to service providers in Junes 2009. The government's Legal Aid Board provided legal services to suspected victims of trafficking. Authorities referred some victims to an NGO specialized in services for victims of sex trafficking that received some government funding. Victims of sex and labor trafficking had access to state services including medical care, accommodation, and counseling, though the NGOs focusing on labor trafficking were largely funded by private sources. Government social workers, the majority of whom have received anti-trafficking awareness training, organized specific care plans for child victims. In the past, the government used hostels to accommodate vulnerable children and unaccompanied minors arriving in Ireland, but the government has recognized that this placement may not have provided sufficient protection. The government provided temporary legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims as part of a 60-day reflection period – time for victims to receive immediate care and assistance while they consider whether to assist law enforcement; ten victims received the reflection period during the reporting period, compared with only two victims during the previous year. Longer-term residency arrangements were possible. Victims who received a temporary residence permit were also entitled to rent allowance. The government provided accommodation for suspected victims in reception centers designed for asylum seekers that provided health care and psychological services. The government encouraged victims to participate in anti-trafficking investigations and prosecutions by offering them witness protection. Irish law also provided for the prohibition of the media or others publicizing details about victims. There was no evidence during the year that potential trafficking victims were penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of their being trafficked. The government contracted IOM to train labor inspectors, health officials, immigration officials, victim support authorities and others on proactive victim identification.
The government made progress in trafficking prevention. In partnership with NGOs, the government published a national anti-trafficking action plan in June 2009. The Justice Department's anti-human trafficking unit coordinated anti-trafficking effort; a high-level anti-trafficking interdepartmental group also functioned as a coordination mechanism. The government funded an anti-trafficking public service announcement that aired regularly during the reporting period and maintained a trafficking awareness website; both targeted clients of the sex trade as well as victims and the general public. The government placed awareness ads in national newspapers for the EU anti-trafficking day as well as in taxi and transport company trade publications. The Department of Justice anti-trafficking unit established a social networking site during the reporting period to raise awareness about human trafficking. The Department of Defense provided ongoing anti-trafficking training for all deployed Irish peacekeeping missions. The government did not identify any Irish nationals involved in child sex tourism during the reporting period. Ireland is not a party to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.