On 6 November 2023, the Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, launched Ireland’s third national action plan to combat human trafficking, the National Action Plan to Prevent and Combat Human Trafficking (NAPPCHT). In September of 2022, a report was issued by the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) on Ireland’s continued levels of human trafficking. According to the report, “The number of presumed victims of trafficking identified by An Garda Síochána was 103 in 2017, 64 in 2018, 42 in 2019, 38 in 2020, and 44 in 2021”.While it is evident that the number of presumed victims is decreasing every year, it is still not decreasing enough. Additionally, A 2021 report by the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Project on the Island of Ireland estimated that the real number of trafficking victims may be actually as much as 38% higher than the number reported by An Garda Síochána.
The released by the Minister is a forty-page plan which aims to completely end human trafficking in Ireland and “build stronger, safer communities”. In the statements made by the Minister, Helen McEntee stated that, “The publication of this Action Plan contains a number of important actions that will help us realise this, including the development of a training framework for all who come into contact with potential victims of human trafficking and the strengthening of mechanisms currently in place to identify and support these victims.” She also added that in a recent report published by Ruhama, an NGO that works with female victims of prostitution, it was noted that they have seen a 35% rise in trafficking victims seeking their support in the last year making it even more clear that more need to be done to combat human trafficking.
A number of Government Departments, An Garda Síochána, TUSLA and the HSE will all have significant roles to play in the implementation of the Action Plan to combat this criminal activity and support victims. The NAPPCHT establishes a new National referral mechanism designed to make it easier for victims to reach out and access support. Which will make it easier for victims to come forward, be identified and access support. It will ensure that victims can come forward to a range of agencies and not just An Garda Siochana as is currently the case. This is in recognition of the fact that victims may, due to experiences in their own countries, not trust police services.
In addition to the New Referral Mechanism there will also be new and widespread training for all those who may come into contact with trafficking victims in a professional capacity while working for a state department or agency such as the Border Management Unit, as well as health and social care professionals, and Civil Registration Services staff working in the HSE.
Staff of organizations/companies like airlines, hospitality, and shipping (those who are most likely to encounter a trafficked person) will receive ongoing training from NGOs. The NAPPCHT also seeks to ensure that there are effective anti-trafficking screening processes at all entry points to the country. In addition to new developments to stop trafficking from occurring, the plan also seeks to provide dedicated accommodation for trafficking victims and protect said victims from deportation. The press release for the NAPPCHT stated that work on implementing these aspects is already underway and that other initiatives not found within the plan are being employed to further combat trafficking in order to hopefully end it altogether.
For the full plan click here https://www.gov.ie/pdf/?file=https://assets.gov.ie/275645/a08d95b1-9701-41a3-87f6-5424625ad325.pdf#page=null For the press release click here https://www.gov.ie/en/press-release/28977-minister-for-justice-helen-mcentee-launches-third-national-action-plan-to-prevent-and-combat-human-trafficking/