According to the annual report for 2015 on human trafficking released by the Department of Justice, a total of 78 alleged victims of human trafficking were detected in 2015 — up from 45 the previous year. Just under a third of these people were minors.
As with all other years, trafficking remains a crime perpetrated predominantly against women, with female victims accounting for two-thirds of the alleged victims reported in 2015. It was also the first year in which a transgender alleged victim of trafficking was reported to gardaí.
Non-Irish European Economic Area citizens accounted for the largest geographic grouping of alleged victims at 47%. Including Irish nationals, all EEA citizen alleged victims account for two thirds of the total. Africa accounts for the largest non-EEA region, with 20 alleged victims or 26% of the total.
Some 62% (48) of the alleged victims were trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation — the largest exploitation category in 2015. This marks a 50% rise on the numbers reported in 2014 (32).
Labour exploitation remains the second largest category at 23 alleged victims, or 29% of the total. This is a 229% increase on 2014 levels, where only 7 alleged victims of labour exploitation were reported. The Immigrant Council of Ireland (36%), Ruhama (25%) and the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (18%) were the main reporting groups.
The CEO of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, Brian Killoran, said improved identification procedures are needed: “Of significant concern is the number of children trafficked for sexual exploitation. A total of 22 children were found in this situation, including 15 who were Irish. In light of these figures, we welcome again the enactment of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017, which introduces improved protections for child victims of sexual exploitation and prevents grooming.
“In light of these harrowing figures, the Immigrant Council is repeating its call for improved identification procedures. Currently, it is not possible to seek asylum and also be identified as victims of trafficking and so provided services on par with other victims. This discriminatory position has been repeatedly criticised by international monitoring bodies, including the US annual trafficking in persons report last year.”
The group’s anti-trafficking manager, Nusha Yonkova, said improved accommodation conditions are also required for women who have been trafficked here.
“A key concern of the council regards accommodation for these women once they have managed to escape their captors. The current accommodation conditions provided by the State do not take into consideration the fact the majority of victims are women primarily trafficked for sexual exploitation.
"The Immigrant Council is calling for improved accommodation facilities which provide sensitive and tailored support to these individuals who have faced such harrowing abuse.”