LEGAL AND POLICING DEVELOPMENTS: In June 2008 Ireland went some way in following the US State Department’s recommendation when the new Criminal Law Trafficking in Persons Act 2008 came into effect. Human trafficking is now officially recognised a crime. The previous legislation – the Illegal Immigrants (Trafficking Act) 2000 and the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998 never resulted in a successful prosecution for the crime of trafficking, though individuals were been arrested and charged.
While the new Act of 2008 is recognised as a step in the right direction some organisations have expressed concern that it will make little real difference to victims of trafficking for forced labour. They say that unless a comprehensive support system to safeguard the trafficked person as the innocent party is put in place then they will be afraid to come forward and that as a result there will be no successful prosecutions. (For comments from the Migrant Rights Centre of Ireland following the enactment of the law click here.)
Another welcome initiative is the establishment by Government of the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU) which it is hoped will serve to ensure that the necessary policies and procedures, in accord with international best practice, are put in place and appropriate and adequate services made available to trafficked persons. The Unit which will operate within the Department of Justice will be exclusively dedicated to co-ordinating and facilitating the implementation of a new national strategy to address human trafficking. In addition to working closely with the Gardaí and the Irish National Immigration Service it will also engage constructively with the NGO community, who will have an important part to play, particularly in relation to follow-up service provision to victims of human trafficking.”