A report prepared by a research team from NUI Galway and released today includes findings that human trafficking is a more significant problem in Ireland than sometimes intimated by the Government (RTÉ News).
The timing of the report, which is available here, is interesting coming as it does just a week after the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform commenced the long-awaited Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Bill 2007 and only a few weeks after the Gardaí (i.e. Irish police force) began work on a joint UK-Ireland policying project to combat trafficking entitled Pantameter 2 (considered here).
The Bill incorporates the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings in part and takes into the EU Council Framework Decision on combating trafficking in persons, and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons of the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime and the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.
In relation to children, the Bill complements the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998 which already criminalises the trafficking (and organisation of trafficking) of children for the purposes of sexual exploitation.
Both the study and the Bill are significant; the study reveals not only that trafficking is in fact a significant problem in Ireland but also that the systems that respond to trafficking (including the legal system) suffer from some serius flaws with anecdotal evidence that a woman 'rescued' from a brothel in the West of Ireland and suspected to have been trafficked was herself sent to Mountjoy Prison (left). The Bill is welcome though and it's hoped that its progress through parliament will be swift.