Minister of Justice Helen McEntee of Ireland launched the Third National Action Plan to prevent and combat human trafficking on November 6.
According to The Irish Times, the new system will make it easier for victims of human trafficking to come forward, train various sectors on how to spot signs of trafficking, dedicate accommodation for victims, and establish safe exits from exploitative situations.
Towards a victim-centered approach in Ireland
The passing of this Act comes after 42 victims of human trafficking were identified in Ireland in the last year. However, according to a 2021 report by Mary Immaculate College, the actual number of human trafficking instances is likely much higher, as high as 38% more than the official figures.
McEntee has stated that the police force in Ireland has failed to gather sufficient evidence to highlight the crime of human trafficking publicly. She also acknowledges that the police force makes it very challenging for survivors to come forward and tell their stories.
“Their willingness or their ability to come forward as part of the prosecution team is very difficult. Overall, this plan aims to ensure that victims are comfortable coming forward, that they are safe, that they have the right support, and that there is trust within the system.”
The goal of this strategy is to create a more victim-centered approach to identifying and supporting victims, raise awareness, and provide training on how to prevent and detect human trafficking. McEntee states,
“The publication of this Action Plan contains a number of important actions that will help us realise this, including the development of a training framework for all who come into contact with potential victims of human trafficking and the strengthening of mechanisms currently in place to identify and support these victims.”
Additional initiatives to combat human trafficking
It was also announced that in addition to the New National Action Plan, the Department is also considering the introduction of “forced marriage protection orders” to prevent the smuggling of people for marriage. However, there is limited information on the plan and the development of this initiative.