According to official Garda and Department of Justice statistics, there were 42 cases of human trafficking in the Irish state documented in the National Referral Mechanism for 2022, two fewer than in 2021.
This is contained as an appendix to the report, Trafficking in Human Beings in Ireland published on Wednesday by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission in its capacity as the national rapporteur on the implementation of the EU Anti-Trafficking Directive.
27 of the victims were female and 15 male, with 23 of the females having been trafficked into sexual exploitation compared to one male.
The other main category was for labour exploitation, followed by people trafficked into the state to engage in criminal activity other than prostitution, and disturbingly one person who was taken here to have their organs removed.
That appears to be the first detected case within the state and the victim originated in an Asian country. Labour exploitation in the past has been linked to fishing and farming, while 23 Romanian nationals were believed to be at risk of such exploitation by a waste recycling company in 2016.
Five of the victims referred in 2022 were children, and two of them were trafficked for purposes of sexual exploitation, both of them girls.
The overall statistics indicate that 8% of the known victims of trafficking here since 2013 were children compared to an EU average of 25%. That percentage accounts for 39 children.
Most of the victims of the traffickers are from Africa, although two of the cases detected related to people who were trafficked from Ireland.
Two of the victims being assisted were from Ireland and were trafficked for purposes of sexual exploitation. This is an aspect of trafficking that has only come to light in recent years, as it was believed that the only victims were people brought into the state, rather than trafficked overseas.
Another section of the report states that 216 individuals were under the care of groups such as Ruhama who are involved in providing assistance for the victims of human trafficking in the state. Sr. Eilís Coe described to me previously how she and other volunteers attempt to rescue the unfortunate women who are forced into prostitution by the trafficking gangs.
Of that number, 79 were new cases. The majority of the victims are female and originate from a wide range of countries, including Brazil, Nigeria, Albania, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Egypt, Philippines, Ghana and Vietnam. The following table illustrates the type of areas in which people were trafficked to be exploited for their labour.
The trends over the last decade confirm that two thirds of victims are female, with just 11 of 272 persons trafficked into sexual exploitation being male. Most of those trafficked to be used for their labour have been male, who have comprised 70% of 193 known victims since 2012.
The report makes the point that there were no prosecutions by the Irish state for human trafficking in 2022.
This is something that we have referred to previously, and that apparent lack of state action to take on the criminal gangs involved has been one of the reasons for the Irish state’s poor ranking internationally with regard to how it has dealt with the issue.
While Gript would regard human trafficking as a symptom of wider problems including the control of Irish borders, and while we would differ regarding possible solutions from the IHREC and some of the groups and individuals involved in tackling the problem and indeed in the case of Ruhama in providing much needed assistance to victims who manage to escape the dreadful trade, we all ought to be on the same side on this.
That people, including children, are smuggled in and indeed out of Ireland as slaves is something that cannot be tolerated