Monday, 13 October 2014

The Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald T.D., today attended a Conference for Senior Garda on the Management of Human Trafficking. Speaking at the opening of the two day conference which marks EU Anti-Trafficking Day, the Minister said that: “I am delighted to see the broad range of experts, both national and international, that the Commissioner has invited to this Conference. It demonstrates clearly the commitment of An Garda Síochána to working in partnership, and learning from, those outside the organisation.”

The purpose of this Conference, which is being attended by approximately 120 of the most senior Garda management in the country, is to bring together senior management of An Garda Síochána with international experts, other state authorities and national non-governmental organisations to discuss best practice in combating this crime and protecting its victims.

Directly addressing Gardaí attending the Conference the Minister welcomed the positive reports from victims of their experience with An Garda Síochána. She said: “You and your Officers are most often that first interaction with a victim. The first contact victims have with you can determine whether they tell you their story. And it is their story you need to hear, to ensure they are protected and the traffickers brought to justice.”

Focusing on what more can be done the Minister said: “We need to ensure that the full range of resources are targeted at human trafficking investigations. We need to focus efforts on intelligence, international cooperation and ‘following the money’.”

The Minister also highlighted the need to reduce the demand for the services of victims of trafficking which fuels this evil trade. She said “If the demand for the services of victims can be reduced, and hopefully eliminated, the business model of traffickers can be dismantled. And be under no illusion, for them this is a business; traffickers operate only to make money from human misery."

Public education and awareness play a vital role in reducing this demand and the Minister’s Department is currently working with a range of partners on an EU funded project that among other things will involve a campaign aimed at men and boys focussed on the impact of human trafficking on women.

Also to mark EU Anti-Trafficking Day, a banner was today placed on Liberty Hall as part of continued public awareness raising efforts in relation to human trafficking. Welcoming the placing of this banner, the Minister said: "Trafficking in human beings is an appalling crime, a serious abuse of human rights and an affront to the dignity of the human person. It should never be tolerated. We must use all the tools and resources at our disposal to prevent and combat human trafficking. The public are a vital tool in this fight. I would like to thank SIPTU and Dublin City Council for their co-operation in allowing us to use such an iconic Dublin landmark to highlight this heinous crime."

Provisional figures for 2013 indicate that 44 trafficking victims were either reported to or detected by An Garda Síochána. Speaking at the conference the Minister acknowledged that while the numbers identified are relatively small, there are more victims out there. She also referred to the progress which is being made at European level in addressing the challenges in accurately recording levels of human trafficking. 

Anyone with suspicions of human trafficking can report their concerns anonymously to An Garda Síochána through Crimestoppers at 1 800 25 00 25 or via a dedicated email blueblindfold@garda.ie.

 

Note for Editors:

Conference Background

This Conference was organised to coincide with EU Anti-Trafficking Day (18 October). Trafficking in Human Beings, while by no means a new phenomenon, is an area that has been the subject of significant international attention in recent years. This has resulted in new legal obligations for States in combating this crime and protecting its victims; these international obligations are the subject of independent oversight through a number of mechanisms.

The purpose of this Conference is to ensure that the senior management of An Garda Síochána are fully supported in fulfilling their obligations in this area. It will also provide an important opportunity for those working at the frontline providing services to victims to meet informally with the senior management of An Garda Síochána.

The audience is made up of c 120 top ranking Gardai - Chief Superintendents, Superintendents and Inspectors.

The Conference is also being attended by a wide range of state and non-governmental organisations active in the trafficking field.

In addition to speeches by the Minister and the Interim Commissioner, the Conference will also be addressed by a number of Garda speakers, international experts as well as representatives from Non Governmental Organisations and State agencies providing supports to victims of trafficking.

A keynote address will be given by Professor Siobhan Mullally a Professor of Law in UCC who is also a member of the Council of Europe Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking (GRETA).

 

Other speakers includes:

· Assistant Commissioner Derek Byrne National Support Services,

· Det. Chief Supt John O’Driscoll Garda National Immigration Bureau,

· Mr Nick Kinsella Specialist advisor Trafficking in Human Beings,/author/expert advisor EU on-line training, Founder & former Chief executive of the UK Human Trafficking centre,

· Ms Angelika Molnar Europol O2 Serious and Organised Crime

· D/Sgt Mick Moran, INTERPOL, Assistant Director, Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation

· Ms Grainne O’Toole (MRCI)

· Ms Sarah Benson (Ruhama)

· Ms Katie Mannion (ICI)

· Mr John Kelly (NERA)

· Mr Maurice Farnan and Ms Linda Latham (HSE)

· Mr Thomas Dunning and Ms Barbara Monaghan (TUSLA)

 

EU Anti Trafficking Day

In October, 2007 the European Commission declared 18 October annual EU Anti-Trafficking Day to demonstrate its long-standing commitment to preventing and fighting trafficking in human beings. The designation of a specific day - 18 October – to be the EU Anti-Trafficking Day is intended to raise awareness about the phenomena of human trafficking across the EU.

Today’s Conference is one of a series of events to mark EU Anti-Trafficking Day, that the Minister is participating in:

· Two weeks ago in Washington, the Minister met with Ambassador Luis CdeBaca the Senior Advisor to the US Secretary of State who directs the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

· The Minister also met with Dr Myria Vassiliadou the EU Anti-Trafficking Co-ordinator last week.

· On the 17 October the Minister will be giving a keynote speech at a conference in relation to Human Trafficking organised by the Immigrant Council of Ireland in the Mansion House.

· The Minister has also met in recent weeks with leading civil society groups, such as Ruhama and the Immigrant Council of Ireland, to hear their views in relation to human trafficking.

A ‘Second National Action Plan to Prevent and Combat Trafficking of Persons’ setting out the Government’s approach to the issue of Human Trafficking is currently being drafted and is expected to be issued for public consultation in the near future. This Plan will draw on the international evaluation of Ireland’s efforts in this regard, as well as being informed by the views of national civil society actors active in this field.

 

Further Information on Human Trafficking in Ireland

Over the past number of years strong legislative, administrative and operational measures have been put in place in Ireland to combat and prevent trafficking in human beings.

The Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008, with penalties of up to life imprisonment for human trafficking, greatly strengthened the law in this area and this legislation has been further bolstered in 2013 with new forms of exploitation, for forced begging and forced criminal activities, being provided for in new legislation.

A dedicated Anti-Human Trafficking Unit was established in the Department of Justice & Equality in 2008 with the purpose of ensuring that the State's response to human trafficking is coordinated and comprehensive. In addition to that dedicated Unit in the Department of Justice & Equality there are 3 other dedicated Units in State Agencies dealing with the issue:

· the Human Trafficking Investigation and Co-ordination Unit in the Garda National Immigration Bureau ;

· the Anti-Human Trafficking Team in the Health Service Executive, who develop individualised care plans for victims, and

· a specialised Human Trafficking legal team in the Legal Aid Board.

Dedicated personnel are also assigned to deal with the prosecution of cases in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and staff in the New Communities and Asylum Seekers Unit in the Department of Social Protection facilitates victims moving into mainstream social services. There are also a wide range of training and awareness raising activities on-going and extensive consultation structures exist with Non-Governmental Organisations, International Organisations and State Agencies.

This year, and for the past few years, An Garda Síochána, in its Annual Policing Plan, has identified trafficking in human beings as one of its priorities with an increased focus given to prevention and detection of human trafficking. Any suspicion of human trafficking that is reported to An Garda Síochána is the subject of a comprehensive investigation.

The State provides a wide range of support services to victims of human trafficking, these include: accommodation, medical care and planning, psychological assistance, material assistance, legal aid and advice, vocational training and education. The Anti-Human Trafficking Team in the HSE develops individual Care Plans for persons who are potentially victims of human trafficking. These Care Plans include a range of issues including medical health, GP referral, counselling, psychological care, sexual health, material assistance, accommodation, training needs, education, etc.

Further information in relation to human trafficking in Ireland, including Annual Statistical Reports, can be found on the State’s dedicated anti-trafficking website blueblindfold.gov.ie