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The Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008 became operational on 7 June 2008 and introduced the crime of human trafficking into Irish criminal law for the first time. The legislation provides for penalties of up to life imprisonment and, at the discretion of the court, an unlimited fine for trafficking of persons for the purposes of labour or sexual exploitation or for the removal of a person’s organs. The 2008 Act builds on the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998. This Act has been amended by the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) (Amendment ) Act 2013 which will give effect to Directive 2011/36/EU on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims.

The Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998 already makes provision for trafficking of children for the purposes of sexual exploitation. The Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008 amends the 1998 Act by amending the definition of a child to a person under the age of 18. It also raised the maximum penalty on conviction from 14 years to life imprisonment.

The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 was enacted on 22 February 2017. The Act enhances and updates laws to combat the sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children, including new offences relating to child sexual grooming and new and strengthened offences to tackle child pornography. The Act also criminalises the purchase of sexual services, introduces new provisions regarding the giving of evidence by victims in sexual offence trials and introduces a new offence addressing public indecency. Other provisions include maintaining the age of consent to sexual activity at 17 years of age and for a new “proximity of age” defence as well as a statutory statement of the law as regards consent to sexual acts.

Pending enactment of the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill, 2010 Administrative Immigration Arrangements were introduced on 7 June 2008. Please note that these only apply to persons who do not have a permission to be in the State. They provide for:

    • a period of recovery and reflection of 60 days in the State for suspected victims of trafficking and
    • in circumstances where the person trafficked wishes to assist the Garda Síochána or other relevant authorities in any investigation or prosecution in relation to the alleged trafficking, a further six months Temporary Residence Permission, renewable, to enable him or her to do so.

Other relevant legislation

Administrative Framework

Consultative Structure

Criminal Justice Response

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