Human trafficking survivors have run ‘the gauntlet of abuse’ - European Union Anti-Human Trafficking Day takes place today -
The Immigrant Council of Ireland has called on the Irish Government to enhance its response to the highly profitable and damaging international crime of human trafficking, with particular attention paid to the recovery and support needs of those who survive it.
The Council stressed the need for a victim centred, and gender informed response to trafficking in human beings with resources and cross-government responses planned in a measurable and strategic way.
Noting recent positive developments including the appointment of the Irish Human Rights Commission as National Rapporteur on the Trafficking of Human Beings, the current process of revision of the National Strategy and National Referral Mechanism for survivors and increased levels of funding for support services, Immigrant Council CEO Brian Killoran raised concerns that progress could be undermined by the multiple crisis facing government and Ireland at present with housing, energy, cost of living, Ukraine and the increase in numbers of international protection applicants.
Mr Killoran said, “We’re urging the Government not to lose focus when it comes to supporting the complex needs of those impacted by this highly profitable and damaging international crime. As an Independent Law Centre who provides legal support to victims of human trafficking among its clients, we are acutely aware of the deep and traumatic effect this crime has on those who experience it.
“Traffickers commodify desperation, and our clients have run the gauntlet of abuse, from coercion and deception to outright control, violence and sexual assault. Often, clients have been trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation in the sex industry and have been trapped in situations of extreme sexual violence for months, even years, and emerge with some of the most complex support needs we as an organisation have ever seen.”
National Referral Mechanism
The Immigrant Council made a submission to the Oireachtas Justice Committee concerning the National Referral Mechanism process this week and has urged Government to adhere to internationals standards such as those articulated in the European Union Directive on Trafficking in Human Beings.
The NRM provides a way for the State and civil society to cooperate, share information about potential victims, identify those victims and facilitate their access to accommodation and support.
Mr Killoran continued, “How we treat survivors of trafficking is a matter of national importance. We believe that clearly setting out in legislation the operation of the NRM and the system of identification of victims of human trafficking will significantly enhance the investigation, prosecution, and prevention of human trafficking. We must build improved identification and support systems; convict traffickers; move away from the policy of accommodating survivors in Direct Provision; and clearly articulate their access to social protection, employment, healthcare and education.
We acknowledge that improvements are being made, for which we commend Minister McEntee and the Department of Justice. However, the risk remains that the opportunity for comprehensive reform will not be prioritised given the many challenges faced in Ireland today. ‘More of the same’ will not suffice, and we as a state have an obligation to both the survivors of trafficking and those who have yet to be detected to get our response right, and in line with international standards.”
The purpose of the EU Anti-Trafficking Day is to raise awareness on trafficking in human beings and increase the exchange of information, knowledge and best practices amongst the different agencies working in this field.
Contact: Sorcha MacMahon / Niamh Breathnach Alice PR & Events, Tel: 087-7585337 / 085-1461231 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editors:
Brian Killoran, CEO at the Immigrant Council is available for interview and comment.
The Immigrant Council of Ireland’s submission to Committee on Justice on the General Scheme of the Criminal Justice (Sexual Offences and Human Trafficking) Bill 2022 is available to read here: https://www.immigrantcouncil.ie/news/submission-joint-committee-justice-general-scheme-criminal-justice-sexual-offences-and-human
The Immigrant Council of Ireland is the leading national human rights organisation working to defend migrant rights in Ireland. It provides free immigration advice and legal support through its helpline and law centre, as well as campaigning for immigration reform. The Council also provides support to victims of racism and human trafficking, and provides opportunities for migrants to connect with each other and their communities.
Visit www.immigrantcouncil.ie for more information.