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Despite 6 prosecutions, there has yet to be a single conviction under the Human Trafficking Act – McGrath

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Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called on the Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan, to clarify why there has not been a single conviction for human trafficking under the provisions of The Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008 and despite the fact that there were two prosecutions under the relevant section of the Act in 2016 and four prosecutions in 2017. Deputy McGrath was speaking after the Minister supplied the information to him in a parliamentary reply:

“Since 2012 a total of 101 prosecutions have been issued under The Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008.

The vast majority of these prosecutions relate to offences under the section of the Act covering Child Trafficking and Pornography.

While on the one hand that is very encouraging, I cannot but fail to be concerned about the fact that only 48 convictions have emerged from that process since 2012.

What is even more deeply alarming is the fact that the Minister has acknowledged in his reply that there have not been any convictions to date for offences under Section 4 of the 2008 Act that relate to crimes which are regarded as human trafficking.

The Minister maintains that he is confident the Act is still an effective tool, and I broadly agree with that point. However, in light of the total absence of convictions, I think serious questions need to be raised about the robustness of the entire prosecution process.

We know that between January 1 2009 and December 31 2015, a total of 417 alleged victims of  human trafficking  were reported to or were detected by An Garda Síochána. 216 of those alleged victims were reported since 2012.

That quite clearly demonstrates we have a significant problem in this state that needs to be addressed, particularly when you consider that the statistics available to us only relate to those tragic victims that have been detected by the excellent work of An Garda Síochána and indeed the The Anti-Human Trafficking Unit within the Justice Department,” concluded Deputy McGrath.