The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) has been designated as Ireland’s Independent National Rapporteur on the Trafficking of Human Beings, with justice minister Helen McEntee stating that IHREC was the "obvious choice" for the role.
Under its new responsibilities, the commission will prepare and publish monitoring reports and other evaluations of Ireland’s overall performance in combating trafficking crimes, measured against the State’s international obligations, such as the EU’s Anti-Trafficking Directive.
It comes after Ms McEntee signed regulations entrusting the IHREC with the new role.
Ms McEntee said: "This is a hidden crime and involves horrendous exploitation, mainly of women and girls, for enforced prostitution.
The Garda Human Trafficking Investigation and Coordination Unit is already in place, and Ms McEntee said there are around 80 ongoing criminal investigations in relation to human trafficking.
IHREC has already highlighted areas in which Ireland has failed to tackle human trafficking, and has made recommendations on how to address the issue.
It received additional resources in Budget 2021 to help carry out its new role.
Chief commissioner with IHREC Sinéad Gibney said: “The commission welcomes the opportunity offered by this appointment as Independent Rapporteur to raise the level of scrutiny, oversight, and reporting of the State’s actions in combatting human trafficking."
She said Ireland is both a destination and source country for human trafficking, including people trafficked for sexual exploitation, domestic work, fishing, agriculture, the hospitality sector, waste management, and car-washing services, among others.
“The consistently voiced concern of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is that victims of human trafficking in Ireland are not being identified, and not getting the kinds of supports they need," she said.
“With this new function, the commission will ensure that Ireland is held accountable against its international obligations on tackling the scourge of human trafficking.”