Trafficking in Persons Report 2011

IRELAND (Tier 1)

Ireland is a destination, source and transit country for women, men, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Sex trafficking victims originate in Eastern Europe, Africa, including Nigeria, as well as South America and Asia. Labor trafficking victims reportedly consist of men and women from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Egypt, and the Philippines, though there may also be some victims from South America, Eastern Europe, and other parts of Asia and Africa. Forced labor victims are found in domestic service, restaurant, and agricultural work. According to local reporting, including an NGO service provider, some victims have been subjected to domestic servitude by foreign diplomats posted in Ireland. According to local experts, children are subjected to prostitution in various cities in Ireland, including Sligo, Kilkenny, Cork, and Dublin. A 2010 report by NGO experts concluded that victims of sex trafficking in Ireland are subjected to multiple repressive methods, including debt bondage, as well as physical and psychological coercion, which prevent their discovery by law enforcement. Further, NGOs report that the majority of trafficking victims in Ireland remain unidentified; only victims who escape, are rescued, or pay off their indentured debts come to the attention of authorities.

The Government of Ireland fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. During the year, the Irish government funded NGOs that provided specialized assistance to victims of forced labor and forced prostitution and increased implementation of its anti-trafficking law. The government, however, prosecuted and convicted only one person for a human trafficking offense, involving the commercial sexual exploitation of a child. The government identified a number of possible victims of trafficking, but only a few were granted official victim status or provided with temporary residency permits in 2010.

Recommendations for Ireland: Increase implementation of the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act of 2008 and vigorously prosecute, convict, and sentence labor and sex trafficking offenders in Ireland; separate the sexual abuse of children and child pornography clauses from the 2008 statute to ensure trafficking offenses prosecuted under the 2008 law can be tracked under accepted definitions; publish recently amended guidelines for prosecutors and take additional steps to ensure identified victims are not punished as a direct result of their being trafficked; take steps to institutionalize and improve the proactive identification of trafficking victims given their initial reluctance to disclose elements of exploitation to law enforcement; pursue a victim-centered approach to trafficking by expanding partnerships with NGOs providing specialized services for forced labor and sex trafficking victims; improve identification efforts of potential forced labor victims, including among undocumented migrants in Ireland; and implement demand measures among consumers of the products made and services provided through forced labor and educate potential clients of prostitution about trafficking.


The Government of Ireland made progress in its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the reporting period. Although it improved implementation of its 2008 anti-trafficking law, only two convicted offenders served time in jail during the reporting period. Ireland prohibits all forms of trafficking through its Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act, enacted in 2008. Penalties prescribed under this law range from no imprisonment to life imprisonment, a range that is sufficiently stringent and commensurate with punishments prescribed for other serious offenses, such as rape. The government investigated 75 suspected offenders in 2010, an increase from 66 investigated in 2009. Local observers continued to express concern over the lack of use of the 2008 anti-trafficking law to prosecute trafficking offenders in Ireland. Furthermore, the government adopted a broad definition of sexual exploitation under this law, including the sexual abuse of children. Under Ireland’s Child Trafficking and Pornography Act, the government convicted an offender to a prison sentence of 10 years for recruiting a child to engage in a sexual act for the purpose of producing child pornography, an offense that constitutes human trafficking. In another case, the government convicted and sentenced an offender to six years’ imprisonment under its Child Trafficking and Pornography Act for the attempted recruitment of a child for sexual exploitation. While the government reported it convicted other offenders in 2010, these cases centered on the sexual abuse of children that did not include elements of commercial sexual exploitation. There were no convictions of labor trafficking offenders in Ireland in 2010. The government took an important step to address the trafficking complicity of public officials through Operation Mast, a two year investigation into trafficking and organized prostitution in Ireland, which resulted in the rescue of 11 Nigerian trafficking victims and the arrest of a suspended member of the Irish police force in November 2010. According to media reports, the officer allegedly provided falsified documentation to a female Nigerian trafficker running the ring.


The Irish government sustained its progress in the protection of trafficking victims in 2010, but issued only five temporary residence permits in 2010. According to NGOs and recent research, Ireland’s current statutory systems and services are insufficient to support and protect victims of trafficking, which can result in victims’ criminalization and deportation. During the reporting period, the government identified 78 potential trafficking victims, including 19 children, and six Irish nationals; this is an improvement from 2009, when 66 potential victims were identified. However, given the government’s overly broad definition of trafficking, some of these could be cases of sexual abuse rather than trafficking as such. According to NGOs, the average waiting time for a victim to be officially identified as a potential victim of trafficking is six months, and during this time, the individual is not entitled to any state benefits. Thus, NGOs take responsibility for providing support to the uncertified victims. In addition, NGO experts continued to assert that more trafficked children and adults in Ireland remain unidentified and could not benefit from the increased protections put in place for them. While the government formalized procedures to guide officials in the identification and referral of victims, NGOs report that better institutional cooperation among key stakeholders is needed to achieve a reliable identification process to locate other potential trafficking victims in Ireland. Most trafficking victims identified by Irish authorities were referred to state-provided accommodations or to the government’s health care and planning department, instead of being referred to NGOs offering specialized services for trafficking victims. The government accommodated trafficking victims in reception centers that also cared for asylum seekers.

The government provided only temporary legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims as part of a 60-day reflection period – time for victims to receive immediate care and assistance while they consider whether to assist law enforcement. Five victims received the reflection period during the reporting period, compared with 10 victims during the previous year. NGOs expressed concern with the length of time it takes to grant victims a reflection period. Also, NGOs reported that victims were subjected to interviews with law enforcement before being granted temporary legal status. The government reported that nearly half of the identified trafficking victims were in the process of claiming asylum, a complex and time-consuming procedure. According to the government’s 2009-2012 National Action Plan on Trafficking, victims in Ireland who “allege trafficking as part of an asylum claim” cannot access the labor market, while other victims are granted such access.

The government reported funding $551,000 to NGOs providing specialized services for victims of sex trafficking and $12,000 to NGOs focusing on labor trafficking. Government social workers, the majority of whom have received anti-trafficking training, organized specific care plans for child victims. The government encouraged victims to participate in anti-trafficking investigations and prosecutions and provided a 60-day period of reflection to decide; however, NGOs noted concern that some victims required more time to recover and to escape the influence of their alleged traffickers in order to make a decision about whether to cooperate with law enforcement. The government reported that no identified trafficking victims were subjected to deportation from Ireland and there were no documented cases of trafficking victims being criminalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of their being trafficked during the reporting period. NGOs continue to voice concerns that victims were not adequately protected from such penalization.


The government sustained its anti-trafficking prevention efforts. In January 2011, it launched a regional Blue Blindfold campaign in Ireland aimed at targeting potential victims and to reduce demand for trafficking. The Irish Justice Department’s anti-human trafficking unit continued to coordinate the country’s anti-trafficking effort; a high-level anti-trafficking interdepartmental group also functioned as a coordination mechanism. It sponsored and organized a one day film festival in October 2010 to coincide with the EU’s Anti-trafficking day. The government did not report on any prevention measures targeted at reducing the vulnerability of unaccompanied foreign minors to trafficking. The Department of Defense provided ongoing anti-trafficking training for all Irish troops prior to their deployment abroad as part of international peacekeeping missions. The government did not identify any Irish nationals involved in child sex tourism during the reporting period.

Associated documents

  • Document ID 1129464 Related / Associated
  • Methodology associated with Trafficking in persons report 2011

    Trafficking in Persons Report 2011 (Periodical Report, English)