Human Trafficking – Modern Slavery in Ireland

The 14th annual UCC Law Conference takes place on November 19th in the Aula Maxima at University College Cork. This is the only student-run professional law conference in Ireland and it is sponsored by William Fry. This year’s theme is “Human Trafficking – Modern Slavery in Ireland” and the speakers include:

– Colm O’Dwyer BL – Victims of trafficking in the asylum/protection system.;

– Edel McGinley, Director of the Migrants Rights Centre on trafficking for labour exploitation, new trends in forced labour, criminal exploitation in cannabis production, the situation of potential victims in prison and new preventative measures to protect workers in the homes of diplomats.

– A former victim of forced labour discussing his/her experience and the realities of forced labour in Ireland.

– Aidan McQuade the Director of Anti-Slavery International on trafficking in the International Sphere;

– Mick Quinn of the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit from the Department of Justice on how Ireland is monitoring the issue of trafficking on our shores.

– Héilean Rosenstock-Armie,Immigrant Council of Ireland, on the issue of sex trafficking in Ireland and potential procedural reforms.

The organisers say that the aim of this year’s conference is to draw as much attention as possible to the issue of forced labour and trafficking in Ireland, and to open up an academic discussion on procedural reform and the efficiency of our approach. They contend that the issue of human trafficking is kept in the dark, and say that it is time for the student body to bring to light the fact that his problem in fact exists closer to home than one might imagine.

The conference will act as a forum for discussion regarding a legal issue at the forefront of both Irish and International law, and will be attended mainly by practitioners, academics, and students. The organisers hope that attendees will be inspired to do something about human trafficking in Ireland as a result of the conference.

All are welcome to attend the conference, though prior registration is required by emailing The registration cost is €40 (this can be paid on the day) and the event carries 4 CPD points as recognised by the Law Society of Ireland. Registration takes place between 8.45am and 9.20am with the event to begin at 9.30am sharp.

For more information see here.

Human Trafficking – Modern Slavery in Ireland

Irish Socio-Legal Studies Network event – Trafficking of Children and Separated Children

The Socio-Legal Research Centre at Dublin City University will host an event, with the view to potentially establishing an Irish Socio-Legal Studies Network on August 29th at 5pm in HG17, the Nursing Building, DCU.

Professor Rebecca Wallace from Robert Gordon University and Detective Superintendent Noel Clarke from the Garda Anti-Human Trafficking Unit will address the topics of trafficking of children and separated children. These talks will be followed by a short reception.

The Nursing Building is the first building on the left when you enter the Collins Avenue Entrance to DCU.  Parking will be available in the multi-storey carpark on campus, which is a 2 minute walk from the Nursing Building (see the campus map here).

All are welcome to attend this event and to engage in some discussion about the possible establishment of an Irish Socio-Legal Studies Network.

Any queries in relation to this event should be directed to Dr. Noelle Higgins: noelle.higgin[at]

Further information on the Socio-Legal Research Centre is available here.

Irish Socio-Legal Studies Network event – Trafficking of Children and Separated Children

Prostitution: Targeting the Buyer of Sex

Earlier this month Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern confirmed that his Department was considering proposals to amend the law on prostitution to criminalise the buyer of sexual services. In response to a Parliamentary Question, Mr Ahern stated that he has asked the Attorney General to examine a report compiled by Department officials and members of the Dignity Project on a recent trip to Sweden, and requested his views on the legal and constitutional implications of such a move. The Report is unlikely to see the light of day before the next government is installed, however it should be published by the next Minister for Justice as a matter of urgency. The proposals present Irish policy makers with the opportunity to re-evaluate the current legal construction of prostitution. This post briefly sets out the current Irish legal landscape and examines the Swedish law on which these proposals are supposed to be based. Finally, some thoughts are offered on the operation of the harm principle in the regulation of prostitution. Continue reading “Prostitution: Targeting the Buyer of Sex”

Prostitution: Targeting the Buyer of Sex

Child Trafficking: Whose Problem to Solve? – Public Discussion

The Children’s Rights Alliance and Comhlámh are co-hosting a public discussion on child trafficking entitled “Child Trafficking – Whose Problem to Solve?” This forms part of the Children’s Rights Alliance’s work on The Body Shop‘s Stop Sex Trafficking of Children and Young People campaign. The event will take place in Bewley’s Cafe Theatre, Grafton Street, Dublin 2 between 6.15pm and 7.45pm on Wednesday February 2, 2011.

Jillian van Turnhout, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, will chair the discussion. Guest speakers will include Muireann Ní Raghallaigh, Lecturer in the School of Applied Social Science, UCD and Albert Llussa, Solicitor who will use their expertise on immigration issues to debate the theme of the evening. This will be followed by an open Q&A session in which the audience is encouraged to get involved.

Tea and coffee will be provided and entrance is free. However, as space is limited admission for the public will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

Child Trafficking: Whose Problem to Solve? – Public Discussion

Fine Gael promises to 'stamp out' Ireland's sex and slave trade

Fine Gael Immigration & Integration Spokesman, Denis Naughten TD will tonight bring forward a Private Members’ Motion which aims to address the issue of trafficking of women and girls through and to the state in the service of the sex industry. The full text of the press release is here. You can find more information on Fine Gael’s immigration policy here. It includes a policy statement on human trafficking. The Immigrant Council of Ireland has a wonderful collection of resources on the Irish approach to human trafficking here, the IHRC provides information here, and you can find details of the government’s anti-trafficking policy here and here. The image at left is the logo of ‘Blue Blindfold’; a European G6 Human Trafficking Initiative, of which Ireland is a member. Fine Gael promises that its scheme will eliminate sex trafficking by:

• Moving the focus on human trafficking from Garda National Immigration Bureau to the Garda Organised Crime Unit;
• Ending the policy of placing victims of human trafficking in asylum centres and introducing independent accommodation, support and protection services. NGOs believe that in some instances traffickers are targeting asylum seekers hostels and identifying women and young girls who they attempt to lure into a life of prostitution;
• Extending the ‘period of recovery and reflection’ as defined in the Immigration, Residency and Protection Bill 2008 now before Dáil Éireann;
• Extending the remit of the Department of Justice’s Anti-Human Trafficking Unit to include migrant women in prostitution;
• Establishing a High Level Group to examine our prostitution laws with a view to preventing the proliferation of sex trafficking.

The press release goes on to say that ‘our law currently provides for a defence in court to prove that they did not know that the person was trafficked. However, a new law for the UK will bring a provision of direct liability into force meaning that ignorance to the fact an individual was sex trafficked will not be defensible in court.’ This seems to refer to provisions of the Policing and Crime Act, 2009 which criminalise the purchase of sex. The Guardian has a good collection of UK resources on human trafficking here. The Dignity Project (a joint initiative of the Immigrant Council of Ireland and the Dublin Employment Pact) has also urged the introduction of legislation which would criminalise men who buy sex.

The press release further says that ‘[t]he reality is that unless we adopt a decisive and practical approach to protection and support systems, victims will not come forward to Garda authorities. This is fundamental to securing convictions against those directly involved in this trade, and objective which every political party supports.’ Ruhama, the organisation which works with women who have been exploited for sex, has criticised the government for not ensuring that protection is offered to as many victims of human trafficking as possible.

Fine Gael promises to 'stamp out' Ireland's sex and slave trade

Bekker on Human Trafficking and the Law in Ireland

Act to Prevent Trafficking Ireland held a conference in Dublin on Monday entitled ‘Human Trafficking: Psychologically Shattered & Caught in a Legal Quagmire’. Hilkka Bekker, Senior Solicitor at the Immigration Council of Ireland, presented an informative paper on the inadequacy of  Ireland’s current law to address the problems faced by many victims of trafficking.  The Irish Times summarises the paper in its report on the conference:

Hilkka Becker, a solicitor with the Immigrant Council of Ireland, called for a quick and streamlined “avenue”, with an independent appeals mechanism, to compensate trafficking victims for the trauma they had suffered.

In cases where the trafficker could not be found, there was an obligation on the State to provide compensation, she told the conference organised by Act to Prevent Trafficking (APT).

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Board offered a “theoretical possibility” for claiming such compensation, but only for out of pocket expenses and not pain and suffering, Ms Bekker said.

It was also possible to sue under employment law but in the case of victims of sexual exploitation, the State was unlikely to recognise the form of the exploitation suffered under the legislation. She said the council was seriously concerned victims of trafficking often did not seem to get the breathing space to allow them to recover, escape the influence of the traffickers and make an “informed decision” on whether to co-operate with gardaí.

The State should ensure permission to remain here was not dependant on whether a victim was prepared to co-operate in a prosecution of traffickers.

Addendum: See the ICI’s Press Release on Human Trafficking here

There are glaring gaps in terms of the type of accommodation provided to women and girls who escape their traffickers, we need to ensure that they received access to independent legal advice at an early stage after they come forward or are rescued and there are insufficient guarantees that they will not be prosecuted for offences they might have committed as a direct result of their having been trafficked.

In addition, the process of officially recognising someone as a victim of trafficking and providing a reflection and recovery period must be improved with an appropriate structure and timeframe that reflects the urgency of the need to ensure she is safe and receiving the services she needs….

The Immigrant Council of Ireland calls for Ireland to adopt the approach of Sweden, Norway and Iceland, where purchasing sexual services has been outlawed.’

Bekker on Human Trafficking and the Law in Ireland