The annual Trafficking in Persons Report 2016, by the US State Department, noted while 90 new trafficking-related cases were opened here last year, in line with figures for recent years, a conviction for trafficking has not been secured since 2013.
According to the report, of last year’s cases, 61 involved sexual exploitation, 17 involved labour exploitation, four were forced criminality, two were for both sexual and labour exploitation, and six were uncategorised.
It said gardaí have continued pretrial reviews of at least 13 cases for possible trafficking indicators related to cannabis sector arrests, while nine people were prosecuted last year for human trafficking crimes — “a significant increase from previous reporting periods (zero prosecutions in 2015; one prosecution in 2014; two prosecutions in 2013)”.
There were 29 trafficking cases pending prosecution, 18 of which were new suspected trafficking cases.
Last year, 95 suspected trafficking victims were identified, compared with 78 in 2015 and 46 in 2014. Of those, 52 were exploited in sex trafficking, 38 in labour trafficking, one in both sex and labour trafficking, and four in forced criminality in the selling of heroin; 50 were female and 45 were male, with the increase in men driven by one case involving 23 Romanian male victims.
The victims included 39 Romanians, 19 Irish children, and 10 from Nigeria, with the rest coming from Eastern Europe, Africa, South Asia, and South America.
The report noted: “Experts raised concerns about the Government’s ability and efficiency to identify human trafficking victims and its efficiency in doing so.
“Although the Government meets the minimum standards, it has not obtained a trafficking conviction since 2013, and had deficiencies in certain areas of victim identification, suitable housing for victims that prevent retraumatisation, and viable avenues for victim compensation.”
It found that Ireland is one country listed as a destination for Hungarian women and children subjected to sex trafficking and domestic labour. It said Latvian women have been recruited for brokered marriages in Western Europe, “particularly Ireland”, where they are vulnerable to sex trafficking, domestic servitude, and forced labour.
Some Lithuanian men are subjected to forced labour, including in agriculture, in countries including Ireland, with Slovak women also trafficked here for sexual exploitation.
The report noted shortcomings, such as a lack of specialised services in the centres for female victims who have been traumatised due to psychological, physical, or sexual violence.
Last year two trafficking victims were granted a 60-day period of recovery and reflection, while seven were granted a six-month temporary residence permit, and three suspected victims were granted a change of status in immigration.