Fine Gael promises to ‘stamp out’ Ireland’s sex and slave trade
Fine Gael Immigration & Integration Spokesman, Denis Naughten TD will tonight bring forward a Private Members’ Motion which aims to address the issue of trafficking of women and girls through and to the state in the service of the sex industry. The full text of the press release is here. You can find more information on Fine Gael’s immigration policy here. It includes a policy statement on human trafficking. The Immigrant Council of Ireland has a wonderful collection of resources on the Irish approach to human trafficking here, the IHRC provides information here, and you can find details of the government’s anti-trafficking policy here and here. The image at left is the logo of ‘Blue Blindfold‘; a European G6 Human Trafficking Initiative, of which Ireland is a member. Fine Gael promises that its scheme will eliminate sex trafficking by:
• Moving the focus on human trafficking from Garda National Immigration Bureau to the Garda Organised Crime Unit;
• Ending the policy of placing victims of human trafficking in asylum centres and introducing independent accommodation, support and protection services. NGOs believe that in some instances traffickers are targeting asylum seekers hostels and identifying women and young girls who they attempt to lure into a life of prostitution;
• Extending the ‘period of recovery and reflection’ as defined in the Immigration, Residency and Protection Bill 2008 now before Dáil Éireann;
• Extending the remit of the Department of Justice’s Anti-Human Trafficking Unit to include migrant women in prostitution;
• Establishing a High Level Group to examine our prostitution laws with a view to preventing the proliferation of sex trafficking.
The press release goes on to say that ‘our law currently provides for a defence in court to prove that they did not know that the person was trafficked. However, a new law for the UK will bring a provision of direct liability into force meaning that ignorance to the fact an individual was sex trafficked will not be defensible in court.’ This seems to refer to provisions of the Policing and Crime Act, 2009 which criminalise the purchase of sex. The Guardian has a good collection of UK resources on human trafficking here. The Dignity Project (a joint initiative of the Immigrant Council of Ireland and the Dublin Employment Pact) has also urged the introduction of legislation which would criminalise men who buy sex.
The press release further says that ‘[t]he reality is that unless we adopt a decisive and practical approach to protection and support systems, victims will not come forward to Garda authorities. This is fundamental to securing convictions against those directly involved in this trade, and objective which every political party supports.’ Ruhama, the organisation which works with women who have been exploited for sex, has criticised the government for not ensuring that protection is offered to as many victims of human trafficking as possible.