Irish authorities need more training to spot indicators of human trafficking among children, according to a new report.
It is one of several actions urged to be taken by authorities to crack down on human trafficking in Ireland in light of new figures.
According to a new report by the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA), the number of child victims of trafficking in Ireland is low.
However, the report states that lack of reporting of children at risk and “proactive identification” of victims contributes to these low figures.
GRETA has urged Irish authorities to step up efforts to combat child trafficking by establishing “a robust child protection system” to identify trafficking indicators, and to provide further training and tools to stakeholders.
GRETA’s latest report shows that the total number of presumed trafficking victims in Ireland fell from 103 in 2017 to 44 in 2021.
However, Ireland continues to be primarily a country of destination of victims of trafficking in human beings, it showed.
Between 2016 and 2020, 46% of the presumed victims came from Africa (primarily from Nigeria), 36% from Europe, and 11% from Asia.
The report found that sexual exploitation remains the primary form of exploitation, with women being the majority of identified victims.
The number of people trafficked for labour exploitation — in sectors including fishing, farming, construction, catering and domestic work — has also grown over the past few years, according to the report.
However, the report notes that these figures “do not reflect the real scale of the phenomenon in Ireland”, partly due to lack of victim identification procedures.
Trafficking for labour exploitation remains under-recognised and under-reported, says the report, while trafficking for criminal exploitation is an area where victims are often not recognised as such.
Despite positive developments in recent years, such as the establishment of a human trafficking stakeholders forum in 2020, and the designation of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission as National Rapporteur for human trafficking, the report expresses “ongoing concern”.
Concerns surround the number of investigations into human trafficking, which has been decreasing over the years according to the report.
There have been no convictions for trafficking for labour exploitation in Ireland, notes the report.
GRETA also raised concern that no victim of trafficking has received compensation in the country, either from their traffickers or the State.
The organisation has also urged Irish authorities to adopt a national referral mechanism, which ensures that different agencies are involved in identifying victims of all types of trafficking.