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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.’

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