By Sarah Mac Donald - 22 June, 2014
Ireland ranks among countries in the top tier for compliance with the minimum standards needed for the elimination of trafficking according to the US State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report.
Responding to the publication of the report in Washington, Sarah Benson, CEO of Irish NGO, Ruhama, congratulated the US State Department for compiling another extensive report on the worldwide issue of human trafficking.
She said the report highlights in particular the progress but also the “shortcomings of countries, including Ireland, in their efforts to combat this heinous crime.”
“As a front line service to victims of sex trafficking, we witness the human consequences where there are gaps in the systems to prevent trafficking, protect victims, and punish traffickers,” Sarah Benson said.
She said Ruhama concurred with many of the concerns outlined in this year’s TIP report, particularly those dealing with the identification and protection of victims.
“These concerns include the flawed identification process, the low quality of housing provided for victims and the cumbersome referral process,” she said.
“A number of the recommendations in the 2014 TIP Report echo those made in other reports including those from GRETA, the ESRI and the OSCE Special Representative for Combating Trafficking.”
“There is now an excellent opportunity for the Irish government to build the progress and learning gained in recent years and take on board these recommendations when developing the new National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking.”
The Ruhama CEO said her organisation supported the recommendations offered to Ireland by the TIP Report 2014, specifically calls to consider the need for funding increases to provide better services to victims in light of noted cuts in this area; and that the role of NGOs needs to be formalised in the identification of victims, in cooperation with law enforcement.
“It is imperative, in addition to following these recommendations from the TIP report, that the unanimous Joint Oireachtas Committee for Justice’s recommendation to criminalise the purchase of sex is enacted in law.”
“It is this demand for prostitution that is directly fuelling organised crime and major human rights violations of women and girls in Ireland today,” she concluded.