Sex trafficking findings highlight urgent need for stalled sex crimes bill

Countries with legalised prostitution are hubs for evil trade

Statement by the Immigrant Council of Ireland

The urgent need for the next Government to prioritise stalled sex crime laws has been underlined by a Human Trafficking Situation Report from Europol confirming the scale of sex trafficking across the EU, according to the Immigrant Council of Ireland. (See Note to Editors)

The Council says the Government cannot ignore the findings showing that organised criminal gangs are running huge sexual exploitation rings and are using countries with legalised prostitution, such as Austria and the Netherlands, as transit hubs to reach Ireland.

The Immigrant Council says there is no time to waste after the election in restarting the Sexual Offences Bill with measures against online grooming, the abuse of victims of human trafficking and sex buyer laws.

Nusha Yonkova, Anti Trafficking Manager with the Immigrant Council of Ireland:

“The Europol Situation Report echoes the experience of the women we are supporting as a frontline service and Independent Law Centre.

The size and range of the sex trafficking networks, the links with organised crime and the role of demand in feeding this huge criminal enterprise are laid bare and cannot be ignored.

There are also lessons for Ireland with the report making clear that human traffickers are exploiting those countries which have legalised prostitution – with Austria identified as a major transport hub while Dutch women are joining Eastern European States and Nigeria on the list of nationalities most exploited.

The Europol findings together with the overwhelming international body of evidence showing pimps, traffickers and thugs run prostitution must lead to a number of immediate actions

  • The stalled Sexual Offences Bill must be restarted by the next Government
  • The long promised National Action Plan on Human Trafficking must be published
  • Our procedures for identifying and assisting victims, which have been internationally criticised, must be reformed
  • Awareness campaigns should be launched highlighting that human trafficking is a brutal, violent and abusive criminal enterprise which can only be shut down by following the money

The Immigrant Council of Ireland is committed to working with the members of the next Oireachtas to ensure these actions are taken and that our communities will not be seen as soft targets for organised crime.

Note: The Europol Situation Report can be accessed at https://ec.europa.eu/anti-trafficking/sites/antitrafficking/files/situational_report_trafficking_in_human_beings-_europol.pdf

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