herald

Monday 18 December 2017

Pimps see Ireland as a safe haven and want a share of €180M trade

Jerry O'Connor from the Immigrant Council of Ireland. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Jerry O'Connor from the Immigrant Council of Ireland. Photo: Caroline Quinn

Ireland is swiftly becoming a sex trafficking safe haven for pimps who want their share of an evil trade which makes more than €180m a year.

The Immigrant Council of Ireland warned that sex traffickers are exploiting Irish failings and that urgent action is needed to prevent Ireland becoming a hot-spot for the crime.

Human traffickers make between €180m and €250m per year in Ireland, with sexual exploitation of young women being the most lucrative aspect of the market.

A total of 97pc of trafficked women are foreign nationals and the two main areas that victims are drawn from are Eastern Europe and Africa.

Destination

The calls follow the recent Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP) 2014 by the US State Department which named Ireland as a "destination, source, and transit country" for people being trafficked for sexual and labour exploitation.

Frontline services said the findings, released last month, highlighted serious gaps in Ireland's anti-trafficking laws and in how victims are dealt with.

June also saw the first anniversary of the Oireachtas report on the Review of Legislation on Prostitution. The Justice Committee spent six months and received over 800 submissions in regard to updating the country's current prostitution laws. The committee was unanimous in its recommendation that laws should be introduced to target the buyers of sex.

The following year saw no further progress on implementing this legislation.

Jerry O'Connor from the Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI) said the body was "disappointed by the stalemate considering that groundwork and consensus had already been achieved".

The Government's slow progress on the issue is all the more glaring considering the number of countries who have introduced a law effectively criminalising the buying of sex since the report concluded.

Last December, France enacted a bill to this effect and Canada are currently in the process of doing the same. Meanwhile, the New 
York, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco police departments are all implementing sex buyer legislation.

And unlike many countries, including the UK, Ireland has failed to appoint an Anti-Trafficking Czar to monitor sex-trafficking on a yearly basis and ensure new laws to target those buying sex are introduced.

"The danger is that if the world moves on and Ireland does not, the country could become a safe haven for traffickers and pimps," said Nusha Yonkova, Anti-Trafficking Project Coordinator of the ICI.

Mr O'Connor added: "Vulnerable women are tricked into coming into Ireland, sold for about €3,000, often by their own family, and told of a promise of new life, job or marriage waiting for them in the country. It is only when they land in Dublin airport that the dreams become a nightmare."

Vulnerable

The TIP Report said that the Government is complying with minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and that gardai 
had increased investigations of alleged trafficking offenders, including foreign diplomats who had domestic workers who were under question.

However, the US State Department report also highlighted how the Government has "decreased its funding for NGOs providing service to victims, and continued to prosecute a high number of non-trafficking crimes, including child molestation cases, as trafficking cases".

In total, 44 potential trafficking victims were identified last year, compared with 48 in 2012. Of those, eight were subjected to forced labour and 16 were children, including 11 Irish national children who were trafficked for sexual exploitation.

hnews@herald.ie

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