PQ: Human Trafficking

Wed, November 13, 2013

125. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the actions taken to deal with the exploitation of women and sex trafficking.

 Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter):

Over the past number of years strong legislative, administrative and operational measures have been put in place to combat and prevent trafficking in human beings including for the purpose of sexual exploitation. The Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008 provides for penalties of up to life imprisonment and, at the discretion of the court, a fine for persons who traffick or attempt to traffick other persons including for the purpose of sexual exploitation. It also makes it an offence to sell or offer for sale or to purchase or offer to purchase any person for any purpose. Penalties of up to life imprisonment and, at the discretion of the court, a fine apply in respect of these offences. Furthermore it is an offence for a person to solicit for prostitution a person who s/he knows or has reasonable grounds for believing is a trafficked person. The penalty can be up to five years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine on conviction on indictment.

 A dedicated Anti-Human Trafficking Unit was established in my Department in 2008 with the purpose of ensuring that the State’s response to human trafficking is coordinated and comprehensive. In addition to this dedicated Unit there are 3 other dedicated Units in State Agencies dealing with the issue namely:

 – the Human Trafficking Investigation and Co-ordination Unit in An Garda Síochána;

 – the Anti-Human Trafficking Team in the Health Service Executive; and

 – a specialised Human Trafficking legal team in the Legal Aid Board.

 Dedicated personnel are also assigned to deal with the prosecution of cases in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and staff in the New Communities and Asylum Seekers Unit in the Department of Social Protection facilitates victims moving into mainstream social services. There are also a wide range of training and awareness raising activities ongoing and extensive consultation structures exist with up to 70 State Agencies, Non- Governmental Organisations and International Organisations.

 The State provides a wide range of support services to victims of human trafficking including those persons who have been trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. These services include accommodation, medical care and planning, psychological assistance, material assistance, legal aid and advice, vocational training and education. The Anti-Human Trafficking Team in the Health Service Executive develops individual comprehensive Care Plans for all persons who are potentially victims of human trafficking (including those who have been trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation) addressing all of the support services that are required. My Department also provides funding to Ruhama who work with predominately with female victims of trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation. A detailed Guide to the Procedures for supporting and protecting victims of human trafficking, along with other Guides and leaflets, are accessible on the dedicated anti-trafficking websitewww.blueblindfold.gov.ie.

 The Government’s approach to the issue of Human Trafficking (including the trafficking of women for the purpose of sexual exploitation) is set out in the National Action Plan to Prevent and Combat Trafficking of Persons 2009-2012 which set out 144 Actions to address this issue. A copy of the National Action Plan and a Review of the Plan are available on the dedicated Anti-Trafficking site www.blueblindfold.gov.ie. A new National Action Plan to cover the period from 2013 to 2016 is currently being prepared. A process of consultation with other state agencies and civil society which will significantly inform the direction and content of the new National Action Plan. The prevention and detection of human trafficking and the protection of its victims has also been a policing priority for An Garda Síochána for the past number of years and it remains a priority in 2013.