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Anti Human Trafficking Unit
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International Developments


Given the international nature of human trafficking, Ireland has placed considerable importance on cooperating with other EU Member States and our other international partners in combating trafficking in human beings.

European Union

The Stockholm Programme from 2009 calls for a coherent policy response which goes beyond the area of freedom, security and justice. It includes external relations, development co-operation, social affairs and employment, education and health, gender equality and non-discrimination.

The European Union's anti-human trafficking policy takes a holistic approach focusing on prevention, the protection of victims and prosecution of criminals, placing human rights at the centre of all efforts to tackle this crime.

This holistic approach taken by the EU is reflected in the Directive on Human Trafficking (2001/36/EU) of 5 April 2011 (which replaces the 2002 Framework Decision) with a deadline for transposition of 6 April 2013. The Directive sets out robust provisions on victim protection, including national mechanisms for early identification and assistance and it supports the principle of non-punishment for petty crimes and unconditional assistance.

On 19 June 2012, the European Commission adopted the "EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings (2012-2016)”. The purpose of this Strategy is to focus on concrete actions that will support and complement the implementation of EU Directive on Human Trafficking (2011/36/EU). The Strategy is a set of concrete and practical measures to be implemented over the next five years. It is based on five key priorities:

  1. Better identifying and protecting the victims;
  2. Increasing prosecution of traffickers;
  3. Development of child protection systems;
  4. Setting up national law-enforcement units on human trafficking; and
  5. The creation of Joint Investigation Teams including National Authorities and EU Agencies.

European Court of Human Rights
The European Court of Human Rights made a landmark judgement in a case involving a Russian woman who was trafficked to Cyprus - (Rantsev v. Cyprus and Russia). The Court found that trafficking in human beings falls within the scope of Article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights which prohibits slavery/servitude and forced labour. The Court emphasised that, accordingly, States have a positive obligation to:
put in place an appropriate legal and administrative framework against trafficking,
take measures to protect victims, and
investigate acts of trafficking,
including through effective co-operation with other States concerned on criminal matters.

Council of Europe

The Council of Europe is an international organisation promoting co-operation between all countries of Europe in the areas of legal standards, human rights, democratic development, the rule of law and cultural co-operation. It was founded in 1949, has 47 Member States with some 800 million citizens. The best known bodies of the Council of Europe are the European Court of Human Rights, which enforces the European Convention on Human Rights, and the European Pharmacopoeia Commission, which sets the quality standards for pharmaceutical products in Europe. The Council of Europe's work has resulted in standards, charters and conventions to facilitate co-operation between European countries.

Since the late 1980s, the Council of Europe has invested considerable efforts in the fight against trafficking in human beings. These efforts culminated in the adoption, in May 2005, of the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings and the setting up of a mechanism to monitor compliance with the obligations contained in it. This monitoring mechanism is composed of the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA), a multidisciplinary panel of 15 independent experts, and the Committee of the Parties to the Convention. GRETA draws up country evaluation reports containing an analysis of the implementation of the Convention by each Party and proposals for further action. On the basis of GRETA’s reports, the political pillar of the monitoring mechanism, the Committee of the Parties, may adopt recommendations concerning the measures to be taken to implement GRETA’s conclusions.

Ireland signed up to the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings on 13 April, 2007; lodged instruments for ratification in July, 2010 and the Convention came into effect for Ireland on 1 November, 2010. GRETA will pay a country visit to Ireland in November, 2012.


United Nations
The United Nations (UN) is an international organisation whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights and achievement of world peace. The UN was founded in 1945 after World War II to replace the League of Nations, to stop wars between countries and to provide a platform for dialogue. It contains multiple subsidiary organizations to carry out its missions.

There are 193 Member States including every internationally recognised sovereign State in the world, but Vatican City. The organization has six principal organs: the General Assembly (the main deliberative assembly); the Security Council (for deciding certain resolutions for peace and security); the Economic and Social Council (for assisting in promoting international economic and social cooperation and development); the Secretariat (for providing studies, information and facilities needed by the UN); the International Court of Justice (the primary judicial organ); and the United Nations Trusteeship Council (which is currently inactive). Other prominent UN System agencies include the World Health Organisation (WHO), the World Food Programme (WFP) and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

The United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT) is a multi-stakeholder initiative providing global access to expertise, knowledge and innovative partnerships to combat human trafficking. The Global Initiative is based on a simple principle: human trafficking is a crime of such magnitude and atrocity that it cannot be dealt with successfully by any government alone. This global problem requires a global, multi-stakeholder strategy that builds on national efforts throughout the world.


The UN.GIFT was conceived to promote the global fight on human trafficking, on the basis of international agreements reached at the UN. To date, 137 countries are parties to the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons especially Women and Children, which supplements the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (commonly referred to as the Palmero Agreement) which was agreed in 2000. The UN Protocol came into effect in Ireland in July, 2010.


US State Department
The US Congress, under the 2000 Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), as amended, requires the Secretary of State to submit an Annual Report to Congress. The goal of the annual Trafficking in Persons (TIPs) Report is to stimulate action and create partnerships around the world in the fight against modern day slavery. The Report places countries in one of three tiers as mandated by the TVPA based on the extent of Government action to combat trafficking rather than on the size of the problem, although the latter is an important factor.

Countries assessed as meeting the minimum standard for the elimination of severe forms of trafficking as set out in the TVPA are classified as Tier 1. Countries assessed as not fully complying with the minimum standards, but making significant efforts to meet these minimum standards are classified as Tier 2. Countries assessed as neither complying with the minimum standards nor making significant efforts to do so are classified as Tier 3.

Ireland was mentioned for the first time in the TIPs Report in 2006. In the most recent Report (2012) Ireland received a Tier 1 rating as it had done in 2010 and again in 2011. This rating for Ireland reflected the significant efforts made by the Government in tackling this form of modern day slavery.


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