European group calls for action against human trafficking
The Irish authorities are urged by the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) to take further action against human trafficking.
It says improvements are needed in prosecuting human traffickers and in providing specialized shelter and compensation for victims.
In its latest evaluation report on Ireland, GRETA urged the Irish authorities to adopt a national referral mechanism, which ensures that different agencies are involved in identifying victims of all types of trafficking.
Last October, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC), which is Ireland’s national rapporteur on human trafficking in that country, called for the national referral mechanism to move forward.
The National Referral Mechanism Bill was approved by the Cabinet last May.
GRETA’s latest report notes that the total number of presumed victims of trafficking in Ireland has risen from 103 in 2017 to 44 in 2021.
Sexual exploitation remained the main form of exploitation, but she found that the number of people trafficked for the purpose of labor exploitation – in sectors such as fishing, agriculture, construction , catering and domestic work – increased over the same period.
GRETA said these figures did not reflect the true scale of the phenomenon in Ireland, in part because of the “continuing limitations of existing victim identification procedures”.
The report indicates that trafficking for the purpose of labor exploitation remains under-recognized and under-reported. He said that trafficking for the purpose of criminal exploitation was an area in which victims were often not recognized as such.
She pointed out that the number of human trafficking investigations has been decreasing over the years and the number of prosecutions and convictions is very low.
GRETA is also concerned that no victims of trafficking have received compensation in the country, either from their traffickers or from the State.
He urged the Irish authorities to ensure that victims of trafficking are appointed by lawyers to represent them in legal and administrative proceedings, including in seeking compensation.
He said the Irish authorities should take further steps to ensure that victims of trafficking are not punished for illegal activities they have been coerced into committing.
Furthermore, the report called on the authorities to step up their efforts to combat trafficking for the purpose of labor exploitation, including by establishing safe reporting procedures for foreign workers and providing targeted support services.
She asked the authorities to review the atypical work regime in the fishing sector to ensure that it contains sufficient safeguards against the trafficking and exploitation of fishermen.
He said additional awareness and training is also needed to spot indicators of human trafficking among children.
The report notes a number of positive developments since its last assessment of Ireland in 2017.
These include the creation of a Human Trafficking Actors Forum in 2020 – bringing together relevant state departments, agencies and civil society organizations – and the designation of the IHREC in as national rapporteur on trafficking in human beings.