ECPAT, the global body which fights child prostitution and pornography, graded and ranked countries around the world according to the efforts they were making to address the trafficking of children across their borders.
While it found that Ireland had made “some progress” in the area, it still placed this country at the bottom of that category.
Only three countries in the EU, were ranked lower – Poland, Portugal and Luxembourg.
The findings of the survey has prompted the Children’s Rights Alliance and retailer the Body Shop this morning to launch a global petition which will be handed over to the Government.
The Children’s Rights Alliance points out that 27 children went missing in Ireland between January and May 2009, yet only two were accounted for.
“It is feared that many of these vulnerable, missing children have been trafficked,” it said. “Ireland is considered, primarily, as a destination for child trafficking, but also as a transit point for children trafficked to Britain – increasingly, the border crossing between the North and the Republic is being used, as well as the Ireland-Wales ferry crossings.”
The petition launched today calls on the Government to:
* Identify child victims and enforce laws to prosecute child traffickers.
* Provide child victims with the support they need to escape their traffickers and rebuild their lives.
* Implement the Irish Government’s National Action Plan to Prevent and Combat Trafficking in Human Beings 2009-2012.
* Ratify the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.
Children Rights Alliance chief executive Gillian van Turnhout said that while the Government had made some progress in tackling the problem, Ireland should not be languishing among the bottom EU states on the issue.