Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Bill 2007: Second Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I am very pleased to present to the Seanad the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Bill 2007. It is a relatively short but important Bill, not only for the criminal offences it will introduce into Irish law but for the very clear message it will send out on our determination to ensure that Ireland does not become a destination or transit point in the evil trade of trafficking in human beings.

Before I outline the purpose of the Bill, it might be useful for Senators if I explain the place of the Bill in the Government's comprehensive strategy for dealing with the growing world-wide problem of trafficking in human beings for the purpose of their sexual or labour exploitation. First, and most important because it underpins the other initiatives taking place, is the Bill which we are discussing today which criminalises trafficking and offers protections through the criminal law to trafficked persons.

Second, are the immigration issues. I will not dwell on these today because they are contained in the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2008 and there will be ample opportunity to discuss them when that Bill comes before this House. The Council of Europe convention on action against trafficking in human beings specifically requires parties to the convention to take legislative measures to provide a period of recovery and reflection for alleged victims of trafficking. Therefore, I will briefly draw attention to section 124 of that Bill which provides for such a period of recovery and reflection. The period provided in the Bill is 45 days.

If it is necessary for the alleged victim to assist the Garda in its investigation or prosecution arising in relation to the trafficking, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform can grant permission for a further six months' temporary residence, which may be renewable. The Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill is clearly the appropriate place for such provisions as that Bill effectively modifies and restates the laws governing the entry into, presence in and removal of certain foreign nationals from the State.

The third element of the Government strategy is concerned with the protection of alleged victims of trafficking and the provision of services to them. This can be done administratively under the requirements of the Council of Europe convention. A new interdepartmental high level group has been established by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to recommend the most appropriate and effective response to the Minister on those matters. The group is co-chaired by the Director General of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service and the Assistant Secretary in the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform dealing with crime.

The group will consist of representatives of relevant Departments, An Garda Síochána and the Health Service Executive. It will bring on board as appropriate new members from other offices and agencies that have a contribution to make to ensure the response of the State is co-ordinated, comprehensive and more holistic than it has been to date. The group will decide on the most appropriate way to engage constructively with the non-governmental organisations and other interested parties to ensure the most effective response to this crime. The NGO community will have an important role to play, particularly in the provision of services to victims.

Also a member of the group is the newly appointed executive director of the new anti-human trafficking unit in the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Ms Marion Walsh. A key objective of the group will be to draft a national action plan under four main headings — prevention of trafficking and awareness raising, prosecution of traffickers, protection of victims, and response to child trafficking. Additional resources have been assigned to the new anti-trafficking unit.

Having placed this Bill in the context of the other initiatives taking place, I will turn to its purpose. It is a criminal law Bill that introduces specific criminal offences of trafficking in persons for the purpose of their sexual or labour exploitation or for the removal of their organs. Legislation in the area of human trafficking already in place is largely designed to deal with smuggling of human beings, as contained in the Illegal Immigrants (Trafficking) Act 2000, and trafficking in children for the purpose of sexual exploitation, as contained in the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998.

The provisions of the Bill are extracted from the general scheme of the Criminal Law (Trafficking in Persons and Sexual Offences) Bill 2006. In addition to trafficking issues, that general scheme also contained provisions relating to the protection of children from sexual exploitation. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform has decided to proceed without those provisions in order to expedite the drafting, publication and enactment of the trafficking provisions.

The provisions protecting children have not been forgotten. They will likely form the basis of further legislation but will be expanded to take account of developments since the general scheme of the original Bill was prepared. These include recommendations in the report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Child Protection, the provisions of the Council of Europe Convention on the protection of children against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse and views received on the general scheme. It is also intended to update and to bring the legislation underpinning the sex offenders register more into line with that in our neighbouring jurisdictions and to further strengthen the legislation on sexual grooming in the light of continuing developments in technology.

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform stated shortly after his appointment that bringing forward legislation in the area of human trafficking would be a priority for him. The early publication of this Bill is testament to that commitment. Creating offences criminalising the trafficking in persons for the purposes of their sexual or labour exploitation or the removal of their organs will enable the Garda to deal more effectively with the trafficking of human beings into, through or out of the State and to co-operate more fully with other police forces in breaking up the international gangs that are often involved in such trafficking.

Human trafficking takes many different forms. It is dynamic and adaptable and, like many other forms of criminal activity, it is constantly changing in order to defeat efforts by law enforcement agencies to prevent it. The responses to the problem are also rapidly evolving. International co-operation, which is so crucial to the success of most interventions against human trafficking, is gaining new momentum and new co-operation mechanisms are being developed. Recently, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy Brian Lenihan, announced further initiatives to deal with other aspects of this phenomenon, to which I will return later.

Before turning to the detail of the Bill, I wish to make clear that I consider trafficking in human beings an abhorrent crime and a violation of fundamental human rights. It is a crime which involves many persons, including recruiters, facilitators of transportation and fraudulent employment opportunities, exploiters and end beneficiaries of so-called goods and services provided and produced by trafficked persons. While most persons' idea of trafficking would be of ruthless international gangs, that is not always the reality. The profits from trafficking in persons are in the same league as profits from drug trafficking and smuggling of weapons but it is a well-established fact that the recruiters are sometimes women who are neighbours, friends or even members of the family of the unfortunate victims.

The year 2007 marked the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade in the former British empire. Trafficking in persons has been described as a form of modern day slavery. I want to send a clear message that the criminal trading of people as commodities, for whatever purpose, has no place in a modern Ireland. This form of modern day slavery is an evil crime with no regard by the perpetrators for the human or societal consequences. It is known that traffickers exploit people's desire to have a better life. They prey on those who are vulnerable because of poverty or other social reasons. They deceive people into travelling with the promise of a better life. Instead, the victims often find themselves trapped and unable to leave exploitative and abusive situations. They become commodities who are moved, bought and sold many times to maximise profits. Sadly, it is a multi-billion dollar business.

It is a crime that is transnational, almost by definition, and can best be addressed in an international context. The European Union, the Council of Europe and the United Nations have all prepared instruments addressing this issue. The criminal law provisions of the following instruments have been taken into account in drafting this Bill: the EU framework decision on combating trafficking in human beings; the Council of Europe convention on action against trafficking in human beings; the optional protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and the protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children, supplementing the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime.

Ireland was involved in the negotiations on these instruments and will continue to fulfil its obligations to participate in the activities of many international organisations against human trafficking. The Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the Garda Síochána are currently participating in meetings of the European Union, the Council of Europe, the United Nations, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe alliance against trafficking and the United Kingdom Human Trafficking Centre.

The Government is committed to tackling this crime and recognises the need to draw together all the work that is being done across the various Departments and agencies. While there is no evidence of an appreciable human trafficking problem in Ireland, any level of this crime is deplorable and unacceptable. Due to its clandestine and criminal nature, accurate statistics on the magnitude of the human trafficking problem are elusive and unreliable. The Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons at the State Department in Washington estimates that 800,000 people are trafficked worldwide each year. International experts estimate that at any given time some 2.5 million people throughout the world are recruited, entrapped, transported and exploited. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reports that trafficking in persons, whether for sexual exploitation or forced labour, affects virtually every region of the world. Data taken from the database on human trafficking trends document the trafficking of human beings from 127 countries to be exploited in 137 countries.

Evidence to date would suggest that trafficking into Ireland is not at present a significant problem, although any case of trafficking is one too many. However, it would be naive to think it is not potentially a serious problem and could grow without remedial action. Recent research concluded that a minimum of 76 women were probably trafficked into Ireland in the past seven years. This is 76 too many and is indicative of a small but growing problem.

Among the difficulties in calculating the true number of persons trafficked into Ireland are the different definitions used to describe trafficking and confusion in the differences between trafficking and smuggling. The definition of trafficking in the Bill will provide a standard internationally-recognised meaning of trafficking in human beings. It can be distinguished from smuggling in persons as follows. Smuggling will always involve illegal border crossings with false or stolen documents. It is always voluntary and is ultimately a crime against the State. Trafficking can involve legal or illegal border crossings or even no border crossings. Documents may be genuine or forged and usually will be taken from the victim by a person in the trafficking network. Coercion and repeated exploitation are usual, with restrictions on and control of the victims' movements. It is a crime against the individual. What trafficking and smuggling have in common is that they are profitable criminal enterprises involving human beings and carried out by criminal networks.

Trafficking offences are difficult to prosecute for some of the same reasons that they are difficult to investigate. Because of the nature of the offence, the frequent need to rely on evidence collected abroad and the potential for victims and witnesses to be traumatised and intimidated, the prosecution of these offences offers new and difficult challenges. However, absence of reliable statistics does not justify inaction in response to the problem and enhanced international collaboration and the development of stronger witness protection measures must be part of any strategy to address these challenges.

In addition to the measures to combat trafficking I have already outlined, the Garda National Immigration Bureau will continue to deploy whatever resources are necessary to counteract the problem of human trafficking. That office and the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform are actively co-operating with the UK agencies on Operation Pentameter 2, which was launched a couple of months ago in London. This is a co-ordinated campaign of law enforcement activity to tackle the trafficking of human beings for sexual exploitation into Britain. Due to the land border and the common travel area, co-operating with and contributing to such operations makes practical sense. Officers from the Garda Síochána and officials from the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform sit on the operation's gold command team as observers and have developed new contacts throughout the policing and non-governmental organisation community in Britain.

The Garda Síochána continues to fully co-operate with the UK Human Trafficking Centre. The centre, which is the UK law enforcement response, is quickly becoming a centre of excellence. Last year, officers from the centre participated in the training of more than 100 gardaí in issues relating to human trafficking and victim identification and care. Ireland is part of a European G6 initiative against human trafficking. This initiative, launched last October, is a co-ordinated international campaign of activity to tackle the trafficking of human beings. Six European countries are participating, namely,the UK, Poland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Ireland, and the initiative is supported by Europol, Interpol and Eurojust. It is a multi-strand operation marrying strategic policy development with a period of operational policing enforcement activity. The strands of the initiative are intelligence gathering led by Europol, an enforcement strand led by the Netherlands relating to labour exploitation and by the UK in regard to sexual exploitation, an awareness strand led by Ireland, and a victim's strand led by the UK and Ireland.

Ireland hosted an international meeting on awareness raising in Dublin on 15 January 2008 as part of its lead role in that strand. The meeting documented and discussed the effectiveness of all the awareness raising campaigns carried out in participating countries in the past three years. As an outcome of the meeting, detailed proposals for a shared campaign this year designed to raise awareness and discourage demand for services of victims of sexual and labour exploitation in participating countries are being prepared. The G6 initiative is designed to ensure the EU becomes a more hostile environment for criminals engaged in trafficking. Through initiatives such as this which involve practical co-operation between member states and Operation Pentameter 2, we learn more about the problem of human trafficking in the European Union. This will help us develop the necessary domestic structures to ensure human trafficking does not become a substantial problem here.

I would like to outline the Bill's main provisions. Section 2 defines several important terms used in the Bill. The terms "exploitation", "labour exploitation", "sexual exploitation" and "trafficks" are given meanings based on what is required or intended by terms used in the international instruments to which I have referred.

Section 3 creates an offence of trafficking a child for the purpose of the child's exploitation. "Exploitation" in this section does not include sexual exploitation which is dealt with at section 4 by way of an insertion into the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998. This section criminalises persons who traffick children for the purpose of labour exploitation or the exploitative removal of their organs. The causing of an offence or an attempt to commit an offence is also criminalised. The section provides for a maximum penalty on conviction on indictment for committing any of the offences in the section of life imprisonment and, at the discretion of the court, an unlimited fine.

Section 4 substitutes new provisions into the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998. It provides a new definition of "sexual exploitation" which is more in line with the definition of "sexual exploitation of adults" in section 2 and defines "child" for the purposes of the section as a person under 18 years. Under the 1998 Act a child was defined as being under 17 years. Raising the age is in line with international norms and is also required by the international instruments on trafficking.

I propose to create an offence of trafficking in persons aged 18 years or over for the purposes of their sexual or labour exploitation or the removal of organs under section 5. Currently no specific legislation protects adults. The Illegal Immigrants (Trafficking) Act 2000 was designed primarily to deal with people smuggling. A person involved in trafficking invariably commits other serious offences such as rape, assault, abduction and false imprisonment. The wording in this section closely follows the wording in the EU framework decision on combating trafficking in human beings which, in turn, is closely aligned to the wording in the UN protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children, and the Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings.

The main difference between section 5 and sections 3 and 4 is that while children cannot consent to being trafficked, older persons can. The international instruments all recognise this and, for an offence of trafficking in adults to take place, there must be threats or use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of the person having control over another person. The concept of adults consenting to being transferred from one jurisdiction to another is controversial but we must accept adults can give a valid consent and, in some cases, as I mentioned, there is confusion between trafficking and smuggling. If a trafficked person subsequently consents to the exploitation for which that person was trafficked, however, that will not invalidate the offence of trafficking.

This section also places mentally impaired persons in the same position as children who are trafficked. Consent is not an issue. The definition of "mentally impaired" is the same as that contained in the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 1993, that is, "suffering from a disorder of the mind, whether through mental handicap or mental illness, which is of such a nature or degree as to render a person incapable of living an independent life or guarding against serious exploitation." This definition is used generally in criminal law provisions, particularly those that protect mentally impaired persons against sexual abuse or sexual exploitation.

Section 5 also includes a new offence of selling, offering for sale or purchasing a person. This is not a requirement of the international instruments and, while not confined to trafficked persons, it acknowledges that those persons can be sold and purchased many times, whether en route to or in the destination country. This can result in repeated suffering for the trafficked person. A similar offence in section 3 relates to the selling or purchasing of children. A person found guilty of any offence under section 5 is liable to a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and, at the discretion of the court, an unlimited fine. The severe penalties for these offences are an indication of how seriously the Government considers the crime of human trafficking.

Section 7 deals with jurisdiction. Ordinarily, Irish courts accept jurisdiction for offences committed within the jurisdiction. International instruments call for wider jurisdiction provisions, some mandatory, some voluntary. The provisions contained in section 7 are based on the jurisdictions contained in the Sexual Offences (Jurisdiction) Act 1996. We automatically accept jurisdiction when an offence is committed in the State, including on ships or aircraft registered in the State. We are also in the Bill accepting jurisdiction where an Irish citizen or person ordinarily resident in the State is alleged to have committed a trafficking offence abroad or where a trafficking offence is alleged to have been committed in another country against an Irish citizen or a person ordinarily resident in the State. When an Irish person does something in another country that is not an offence in that country but if committed in the State would be an offence, that person cannot be prosecuted here as he or she has not committed an offence. Sections 8 and 9 contain standard provisions regarding proceedings relating to offences committed outside the State and double jeopardy.

Section 10 provides for exclusion of members of the public from proceedings. Trafficked persons can be very vulnerable and traumatised and the traffickers and their criminal associates may wish to harm them or members of their families or prevent them from giving evidence. This provision will give a judge power to exclude from the court persons other than officers of the court, persons directly connected with the proceedings or other persons as the judge may determine. This will ensure a lack of publicity surrounding these cases.

Section 11 is another protective measure. It provides for a guarantee of anonymity of alleged victims of trafficking unless the judge fully or partially waives the anonymity in the interests of justice. Breach of this section could have serious consequences for the alleged victim. Accordingly, an offence under section 11 will be triable on indictment with a maximum penalty on conviction of an unlimited fine and-or ten years' imprisonment.

Section 12 contains another protective measure for alleged victims. An amendment to the Criminal Evidence Act 1992 will allow an alleged victim of trafficking to give evidence through a live television link, with the leave of the court in the case of adults, from either within the State or abroad.

Section 13 provides for amendments to the Sex Offenders Act 2001. Some of these are technical in nature but others are important for the smooth operation of that Act. An important amendment raises the maximum penalty for non-compliance with the notification obligations in the Act, which is more commonly known as the sex offenders register. Failure by a person so obliged to notify the Garda of his or her address is an offence with a maximum penalty on summary conviction of a fine of €1,905 and 12 months imprisonment. The proposal in this section raises the penalties, thus ensuring the offence can be tried on indictment. As an arrestable offence, it will allow gardaí to arrest on the spot a person who has not complied with the notification requirements. The section also gives power to probation and welfare officers to prosecute persons who fail to comply with the conditions attaching to an order for post-release supervision. To aid the smooth running of the Act, the provisions requested by the Garda Síochána and the probation and welfare service relating to the notification requirements and post-release supervision have been included.

The amendment in section 14 to the Bail Act adds the offences created in the Bill to the Schedule of that Act. This means they are serious offences for the purpose of the Bail Act.

As I mentioned earlier, there has to be a co-ordinated comprehensive approach to the challenges presented by international trafficking gangs. This Bill deals with the criminal law response to these challenges. The offences in the Bill are comprehensive, going beyond the requirements of the international instruments but retaining all the essential elements of the meanings given to terms such as "trafficking", "sexual exploitation" and "labour exploitation" in those instruments. This is important for ratifying the instruments and for international co-operation.

On enactment of the Bill, we will be in full compliance with the EU framework decision on trafficking. I hope I have adequately explained the legislative, administrative and operational initiatives that are being taken in tandem with this Bill to comprehensively address any existing manifestations of trafficking in this country and to prevent proliferation in trafficking. As soon as progress is made on the administrative initiatives we will be in a position to ratify the UN protocol. We will first have to ratify the parent convention against transnational organised crime but, with the administrative response in place, ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings can take place as soon as the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill is enacted.

I wish to briefly address the question of whether we should provide for the criminalisation of using or availing of the services of a trafficked person. When this issue was raised during the debate in the other House, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform undertook to consider it and, if it proved feasible, introduce an appropriate amendment in this House. From a policy point of view, the arguments are finely balanced and it is not beyond argument that such an offence would work to the detriment of trafficked persons because it also would be almost impossible to prosecute. However, it would send out a message that using the services of a trafficked person is unacceptable and could potentially have repercussions for the client. Other aspects to be borne in mind in any such amendment are that trafficking can be for sexual or labour exploitation or for removal of organs and that the trafficked person can be a child or an adult. For example, it is already a serious offence to have sex with a child under 17 years of age irrespective of whether the child was trafficked. I look forward to hearing the views of Senators on this complex issue and, in the meantime, the Department is considering whether and how such an amendment could be worded.

I look forward to a positive debate on the Bill. It is a crucial part of the Government's response to the cruel trade of trafficking in human beings and I have no hesitation in commending it to the House. As Minister of State at the Office of the Minister for Children and the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, it is my pleasure to present the Bill to the Seanad.

I appreciate the Minister of State's comprehensive introduction to the Bill and its main provisions. He referred to the Bill's timeliness and the priority given to it by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy Brian Lenihan. However, the Bill is intended to implement the Council framework decision on combatting trafficking in human beings which was adopted on 19 July 2002 and which set a deadline of 1 August 2004 for implementation by member states. If that is the pace at which we implement EU framework decisions on this and other issues, it is most unsatisfactory.

Notwithstanding these reservations, the Bill is welcome and I acknowledge the vigorous debates held on its various stages in the other House. The Minister has improved the Bill by taking on board many of the amendments proposed by Fine Gael and other parties. The legislation started life as the criminal law (sexual offences) Bill 2006 and has since been re-introduced.

The issue of human trafficking is subject to international laws and conventions, notably an optional protocol which supplemented the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime and a Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings signed in Warsaw in May 2005. The UN convention sets out clear requirements for effective action to prevent and combat trafficking in persons, especially women and children, but it also prioritises the protection of victims of trafficking. As the Minister of State noted, the Bill deals solely with criminal law aspects of trafficking but I wonder whether it respects the EU plan on best practices, standards and procedures for combating and preventing trafficking in human beings which we adopted in 2005. It has been stated that the protection of victims of crime is more a matter for the upcoming immigration Bill but it is integral to the effectiveness of the legislation before us.

The Minister of State spoke about complex issues such as involvement of victims' families in the trafficking. Deportation in such circumstances only adds to the misery of the individual who was harmed in the first instance by this terrible trade. Neither the Illegal Immigrants (Trafficking) Act 2000 nor the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998 has ever resulted in a successful prosecution for the crime of trafficking, although individuals have been arrested and charged. Victims fear they will be deported rather than treated as genuine once they are in the hands of the police. With regard to the 45-day period and the six-month renewals, these concern only third-country nationals. The figures indicate that 73% of those trafficked into Ireland come from eastern Europe. How will protection be provided to people from eastern Europe under this Bill and the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill?

The Minister of State indicated the value of this trade, which appears to be the third most lucrative of its kind in international crime circles. This highlights the priority that should be given to dealing with this matter. We need a legislative framework and an enforcement framework to be put in place in order that we might have a real deterrent in respect of this type of crime.

Ireland has signed but not ratified the UN trafficking protocol — which was opened for signature in 2000 and which urges states to protect and assist victims of trafficking, with full respect for the rights of the child — neither has it ratified the UN's optional protocol on the rights of the child. In addition, Ireland has not signed or ratified the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings. The failure to either sign or ratify these instruments and the delay in introducing the Bill are evidence of the fact that we have not been to the forefront in dealing with this matter.

The key point I wish to make relates to the way victims are treated. On Report Stage in the Dáil, a comprehensive amendment regarding a victims charter was brought forward but was not accepted. There is a flaw in the Bill in this regard, particularly in the context of citizens from eastern Europe as opposed to third country nationals.

I welcome the amendment of the Bill to the effect that consent will not be a defence. The latter is an improvement. The Minister of State indicated that the argument is finely balanced with regard to the criminalisation of availing of services. Fine Gael's view on this matter is that while formulating an appropriate provision would prove complex, the inclusion of such a provision would improve the Bill. Such a provision would have my party's full support.

The work of the high level group on combating trafficking in human beings would be improved by the participation of the NGOs, which have first-hand experience and knowledge of this terrible trade. To keep them at arm's length, as the Bill proposes, will weaken the effectiveness in respect of understanding and dealing with this complex issue.

The Bill is welcome and has my support and that of my party. However, a provision relating to availing of services should be included. I ask the Minister of State to clarify precisely how victims from eastern Europe will be catered for under this Bill or the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill.

I welcome to the House the Minister of State with responsibility for children, Deputy Brendan Smith. This is the first occasion on which I, as my party's spokesperson on justice, have had the pleasure to be present when he has addressed the House. I compliment him on the excellent job he has done in his brief to date. Even though I have known the Minister of State for many years, he has surpassed even my expectations. I have come to admire his excellent and succinct observations in the national media. The Minister of State is clear in his thinking and is doing a great job. I compliment him in that regard and I encourage him to keep up the good work.

I welcome the Bill. Estimates indicate that a total of 76 human beings were trafficked into Ireland in the past seven years. One person being trafficked into this country is one too many. We want to nip in the bud such behaviour. Between 20 and 30 years ago, many people emigrated from Ireland. Now, however, as a result of our sustained economic growth and wealth, many people are coming here to work. The cruel, wicked and evil individuals involved in human trafficking see opportunities to enslave women and bring them here. Approximately 80% of all human beings trafficked are either women or children, which is sickening. Ireland must be seen as a nation that does not condone in any way behaviour of this sort.

There are many reasons offered in respect of what causes trafficking. I refer here to the lack of employment opportunities, organised crime, regional imbalances, economic disparities, social discrimination, etc. However, none of these can be given as a justification for trafficking. Traffickers, who are professional criminals, are making huge amounts of money and we are trying to introduce legislation to curtail and stymie their activities. They are employing ever more sophisticated and advanced methods to move people from location to location.

I must be careful about what I say, but I am of the view that the trade of prostitution here is as vibrant as it is in other western European countries. It is regrettable that in many instances eastern European and Russian women are being trafficked into Ireland to become involved in this trade. The authorities must be increasingly vigilant to ensure the exploitation of these individuals is stymied. They should monitor the activities of lap-dancing clubs, etc., and ensure the women employed in such establishments are here of their own volition and are not being exploited or abused.

It has been stated that human trafficking is similar to enslaving people. When drugs such as cocaine, heroin and marijuana are trafficked, they can be used only once. With human trafficking, however, people can be sold on a number of times, which is appalling. When I studied law — it is too long ago to state exactly when I did so — in our first year we were obliged to read a famous book on Roman law by Max Kaser, which I hated. I am sure that when I graduated I burned it along with other books that broke my heart. My recollection is that while slavery was acceptable under Roman law, even slaves had basic rights. As far as I recall, they were allowed to marry, etc. They were exploited, primarily but not exclusively, for the work they could do, namely, housework, farming their owners' lands, providing cheap labour and so on.

Unfortunately, people who are trafficked today have few or no rights and, among other things, are subjected to imprisonment. It is a matter of concern that the value of the international human trafficking trade stands at approximately €10 billion. It is clearly a lucrative trade.

We also think most human beings who are trafficked are used for prostitution and sexual exploitation. Others are used as forced labour. It may not have been a widespread practice but when eastern Europeans came here before the expansion of the EU, there were cases where people would pay them €1 an hour or much less than the minimum rate. It would be foolish of us to say otherwise, although I am thankful it was stamped out. This happened here recently because of the greed of people who were probably making much money. Instead of paying a person €8 or €9, there was exploitation.

The sickest of all exploitation is trafficking for the removal of organs, in many cases from young people. Stealing organs from me when I am past 50 and well worn out probably would be a waste of time. Young people, such as teenagers or even younger, could be trafficked and forced to have their kidneys removed. When a liver or other organ for transplant is to be removed, that trafficked person may even be killed off. That is appalling.

The Minister of State noted in his speech the importance of differentiating between human trafficking and smuggling. Smuggling is deplorable and we have seen appalling instances of people smuggled in containers. There were cases of people dying in the process. The people involved in smuggling are mainly adults who, with free will, enter into a deal with smugglers to get to Ireland or another location. They may indicate they will pay a sum such as €5,000 to get from A to B, so they can have a better lifestyle. Although that is deplorable, it is not as low on the scale as human trafficking.

Figures I came across in research are frightening. It is believed up to 800,000 people may be trafficked internationally every year, with 80% being either women or children. That is an appalling record. I remember considering the matter of children's rights and first-time offenders under legislation introduced in Australia and New Zealand. These countries brought in legislation to deal with young offenders and had a very good template. We have often considered the position in Canada.

In my research I was surprised that in Canada modern sexual slavery was investigated, and a report called Falling Short of the Mark was published. This is an international study of the treatment of human-trafficking victims. The principal author is Benjamin Perrin, who wrote that Canada has ignored calls for reform and continues to re-traumatise trafficking victims with few exceptions by submitting them to routine deportation, and it fails to provide even basic support services.

I urge that this should not happen here. In the event of somebody finding a woman in any part of Ireland who has been enslaved for prostitution through human trafficking, she should be treated humanely when she is freed from slavery. The worst action to take would be to deport such a person.

This is a fairly recent report, from 2006. We often perceive Canada as being a country well above the mark and a nation that can be admired. According to this report, when somebody is found there who is a victim of trafficking and involved in prostitution, that person is deported to wherever they came from, be it India, Cambodia or Russia. That is appalling treatment.

We should learn from that and in the event of similar situations arising here we should ensure the person is treated humanely and receives counselling and medical treatment. If people are brought here against their will and used for prostitution, for example, perhaps they should be given asylum in order to be educated, trained and given comfort, and more importantly, recognition and compassion. I would be jumping up and down if I thought people — we are mainly talking about females — were being exploited and abused and their only recognition for escaping such slavery was to be deported. They could again be exploited and trafficked.

I picked up on this report because sometimes we can learn from what happens in other countries. Thankfully, we are probably not in the most serious league of international people trafficking. The report gave a "D" grade to the United Kingdom, our neighbours, and Canada received an "F" grade. Ideally, a country would get an "A" grade. We should also recognise that countries such as Australia, Norway, Sweden, Germany and Italy received "B" grades. I wonder where we would end up if graded.

I hope we strive to achieve an "A" grade in this regard. Le cúnamh Dé, that is what we will do with the help of this legislation, among other measures.

I ask permission to share time with Senator Norris.

I welcome this Bill and congratulate the Minister on introducing this long overdue legislation. It at last means Ireland will comply with international obligations. Back in September, shortly after my own election, I put a motion to this House, which remains on the Order Paper, calling on the Government to bring forward legislation without delay criminalising the practice of trafficking in persons for the purposes of sexual exploitation and noting Ireland is at present in breach of international and European obligations in failing to have such legislation in place. We would all acknowledge this is long overdue and very welcome.

This is very much an incomplete Bill and it is very difficult to debate it in any real sense without debating it alongside the provisions contained in the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill, to which the Minister of State referred. In my view and in best practice in general, it would have been far preferable to have included measures for the protection of victims of trafficking within the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Bill rather than hive them off to another Bill dealing with immigration matters.

The two issues should not be seen in isolation from each other. Persons trafficked into this country will have immigration issues and be in need of serious protection from an immigration point of view, as well as various other human rights perspectives. That many of the protective provisions are contained in the immigration Bill and not the trafficking Bill is a cause of concern.

The Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill falls short of the adequate protections for victims of trafficking that would be recognised in best practice elsewhere. For example, the Minister of State referred to the provisions in terms of a period of recovery and reflection; that where persons are found to have been trafficked into a country, rather than being simply deported — the worst practice and in violation of human rights — most other countries provide for a period of recovery and reflection. This would assist the Garda in its investigation of trafficking offences and in trying to apprehend alleged traffickers, and it would give victims time to produce statements.

The period provided in the Bill is only 45 days, which is far too short and should be extended. In the immigration Bill, there is a discretion to give a visa for six months of temporary residence to victims of trafficking. We should view this in the context of the human rights of persons who have been trafficked into the country. Their rights have already been violated and they deserve a more long-term recognition of their status. The Minister should have discretion to give them a more long-term, and possibly indefinite, visa to remain here. At the very least the period of recovery and reflection should be three months rather than 45 days.

There will be real fears among victims of trafficking not only in respect of deportation and their immigration and residence status but in respect of the danger that they would be prosecuted for other offences, most obviously soliciting and loitering for the purpose of prostitution. The legislation should contain a clear non-punishment provision. I pay tribute to the non-governmental organisation Ruhama that has been pressing for many years for the rights of trafficked persons and those engaged in prostitution. It is concerned that the question of non-punishment and the right of victims of trafficking not to be punished is not sufficiently clear. It is also concerned about the lack of protection for victims of trafficking from EU member states. We think of trafficked persons as being from non-EU states but that is not necessarily so. Ruhama believes the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill does not adequately address that issue. Consent is a serious issue in the definition of trafficking and exploitation. The Minister of State referred to this and it has been dealt with in debate, but it may require more clarity when we discuss the provisions of that Bill in detail.

It is important to consider the human rights of trafficked persons as a whole and not as criminal law issues on the one hand and immigration issues on the other. The Minister of State said we need a co-ordinated response but that is not evident in the Bill. It is unfortunate because this is a missed opportunity to explore further the suggestion to criminalise using or availing of the services of a trafficked person. This could have been an opportunity to consider a more radical approach to law reform on trafficking and prostitution generally and study the Swedish model by which using the services of a prostitute is a criminal offence. This removes the need to prove that the alleged abuser knew that the victim or prostitute was trafficked. I urge the Minister of State to reconsider that issue and to try to take a more inclusive approach to the human rights of those who are trafficked.

I thank Senator Bacik for allowing me to take part in this debate and for sharing her time with me. This Bill is very welcome but is it not an appalling comment on human nature that such a Bill has to be introduced, that there are persons among us, and around the globe, who are prepared to treat other human beings merely as commodities to be bought and sold and ground into slavery of the most degrading and awful kind?

I share some of Senator Bacik's reservations. The long title of the Bill states that it is "an Act to give effect ... in part, to the United Nations Protocol". What parts were left out? Are they the parts to which Senator Bacik referred when she spoke about the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill? Senator O'Donovan addressed that matter very sensitively. It is appalling to think of people being deported out of this country having already suffered a trauma, although there is an interval of 30 or 40 days, with the possibility of three months. In the light of the trauma, however, it is not appropriate to further punish these women and, occasionally, youths and boys, given that they have been so badly treated.

The Minister of State has established a think-tank in the Department, the so-called high level group. Will this be financed? Does it meet the requirements for a co-ordinating agency to address directly, immediately and effectively, on a daily basis, the question of trafficking? If not, that is what we need and we need to involve organisations such as Ruhama, of which I also approve.

Luckily I do not believe we are involved in the business of the removal of organs. That is happening all over the world. In a recent horrifying case in India a doctor was caught who had been involved in 800 such cases. The trafficking of persons generates £8 billion annually. Somewhere between 500,000 and 5 million people are involved. The Minister of State cites 800,000 but no one knows the actual figure.

One of the most significant elements of the Bill is the provision of protection for persons who are mentally impaired or suffering from a disorder of the mind or whatever the definition is. This is critical in the light of the Iranian case I have cited several times of a 16 year old mentally handicapped girl who was sentenced to death for not protecting herself vigorously enough against her rapists. That is shocking. I attended a conference last weekend, organised by the Bar Council, during which a recent Dutch case was quoted involving another 16 year old mentally handicapped girl who was not entitled to bring her rapist to court because being mentally impaired she could not make a complaint. This happened in Europe. Luckily the Council of Europe stepped in, through the European Court of Human Rights, and the case against Holland was found to be justified and the situation has been rectified. That shows the extraordinary vulnerability of such people.

We must provide more services to deal with people involved in this activity. The number may be small; the Minister of State says approximately 70 cases over the past seven years. The figure I have received is 90, which seems small but each case is an appalling tragedy for the person involved and it is a reproach to us as a society if any of these cases continue to exist. My figure of 90, or the Minister of State's 70, are only the ones we know about.

It is useful to put a human face on these figures. In 2004 an 18 year old eastern European woman was brought to the attention of the Garda when the neighbours called them to a house in Dublin. She was taken to hospital by ambulance. She had been beaten by a man at the house who had forced her to have sex with 200 men. She was six months pregnant by that man. She told the Garda that she had been taken by bus from eastern Europe to Spain, given a false Italian passport and trafficked to Ireland. That is the real human face of what has been happening in this country.

I came across a case in The Sligo Champion on 26 April 2006 in which a 17 year old west African girl was brought to the attention of the Garda in Sligo after working as a prostitute. It came to light that she was a minor and further investigation revealed she had been trafficked to this country specifically to be exploited by an organised prostitution ring.

The last case is by far the worst. It involved a north African minor whom the Garda had rescued from a brothel and was put into the care of the Health Service Executive, HSE, in Dublin. I believe I raised this case on the Order of Business some months ago. The HSE did not have adequate staff to look after her and she went missing from that centre within days. What is the fate of a woman such as that? That is why we need not just a ministerial think-tank but a clear, specific, target-orientated and well-funded group to implement the provisions of this Bill which, in conjunction with my colleagues, I welcome strongly.

There has been a general welcome for the Bill, as there should be, and it is about time as it is informed by international law such as the conventions of the UN and of the Council of Europe. We have been tardy in recognising the existence and scale of the problem and the need for appropriate legislation to deal with it but, thankfully, the Legislature is dealing with this. The Bill was improved during its passage through the Dáil and it is hoped the debate in the Seanad will involve further consideration of areas that need to be examined to deal with the dangerous crime of human trafficking.

While the trafficking of people for sexual purposes has been most prevalent in Ireland, there also have been sad examples of people being imported in inhumane conditions into the State. Sadly, deaths have occurred as a result of such trafficking incidents, which makes a Bill of this nature all the more important. I am grateful for the general acceptance of the principles behind the Bill and the common acceptance of the need to ensure the Bill will operate to the highest possible standards.

Two areas should be considered when trying to improve the Bill further and may be criticisms to which Members will return in a later debate on the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill. In recent years, most items of legislation have shared a common feature, regardless of the composition of the Government of the day, namely, the need to give power through secondary legislation to the Minister and his or her successor to produce regulations as to how the Bill might operate. Members should ensure this power is used as little as possible. When it is used they should ensure such regulations are brought forward to this House by way of a statutory instrument to facilitate proper further consideration and the approval of the House is obtained in such matters. Such a principle should be adopted in respect of legislation such as the Bill before the House.

The second area has been already alluded to. Despite the provisions on anonymity in this Bill, those who are victims of human trafficking, particularly in the sexual area, may be open to discrimination in other areas. It is commonly accepted that prosecutions under laws on public propriety and sexual offences will not be applied as a result of this measure and that a rule of thumb will be applied by the law authorities. I again refer to the future debate on the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill. There is a danger that people who have been trafficked into this country and who have suffered appalling abuse will be subjected to possible removal from the country, having been identified. Members should not be prepared to stand over such occurrences. While this matter cannot be rectified directly in this Bill, it is referred to in subsequent legislation and I hope Members can return to this issue.

Several organisations have been mentioned already in this House in respect of their campaigning role and in ensuring that all public representatives are aware of the need to introduce effective legislation on this issue. I add my voice in support of such organisations. I also will be parochial in naming an organisation that has not been mentioned yet, the Sexual Violence Centre in Cork. Through its stop sex trafficking campaign, it formed part of a coalition of bodies that made public representatives aware of the issues associated with this Bill and of the need to place on the Statute Book the best possible legislation. One also must acknowledge the role played by the Irish section of Amnesty International. It submitted a great deal of material to Members in respect of this Bill to inform them of the international aspect of human trafficking in general, its existence and the role Ireland has as a moral country participating in international negotiations in this field.

I look forward to the Minister addressing the areas I have raised on the conclusion of the Second Stage debate next week. Between Second and Committee Stages, this House should have an opportunity to enhance further the Act that will eventually be put in place, in a similar manner to the opportunity already afforded to Dáil Éireann. I am confident, given the record and reputation of the Seanad, that Members will be able to do so with their usual ability. The Minister should take into account such views.

I thank Senator Boyle. Senator Alex White has ten minutes.

While I believe I have ten minutes, in deference to some of my colleagues who are present I will not use them all. However, I wish to reserve my right to so do.

Like all Members, I strongly welcome the publication of this Bill. As Senators Boyle, Regan and others have noted, it has been subjected to rigorous and thoughtful debate in the other House. The Minister has been prepared in some instances to accept amendments from the Labour Party, Fine Gael and others, which is all to the good in this context.

At the outset, I wish to refer to a point made by Senator Boyle, with which I strongly agree. I have made this point in the House in the past and as an issue of principle it is worth repeating. I understood Senator Boyle to say that the practice of legislation confining itself to enabling provisions, thereby shifting the power to make or at least to elaborate the law to secondary legislation and ministerial regulation, should be resisted. This should be done only when a compelling case to so do exists. The matter under debate is one on which Members should ensure the principle of the law as they elucidate it and wish it to be is set out in primary legislation. It should be subject to debate in this House and among the public in order that it has the credibility of laws genuinely promulgated by the Houses of Parliament, rather than simply by Ministers. While this does not constitute a criticism of individual Ministers who must operate within the law, it is much better that laws are made by legislators rather than allowing them to be left to ministerial orders or regulation.

The Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill has gone before the Dáil and will come before the Seanad in the coming months. It is an example of legislation that strays too far into the practice of including enabling provisions that do not set out in sufficient detail the principles of the legislative provisions that society desires. This is a pity and Members will have an opportunity to raise this matter when the aforementioned Bill comes before the House.

It is no exaggeration to refer to human trafficking and trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation as modern forms of slavery. My colleague, Deputy Pat Rabbitte, has made the point elsewhere that it is no exaggeration to describe it as such. People were of the opinion that slavery was a phenomenon that finished in the 19th century. However, they only need to look at the regular news reports of really shocking exploitation, sometimes in the context of international sexual slavery rings. Ireland is no more unscathed in this regard than any other country.

It is known that the women concerned, some of whom are girls in their early teens, are being sold into sexual slavery. Sufficient empirical evidence exists to enable one to be certain that young girls and boys are sold into sexual slavery as a result of their vulnerability as individuals because of their youth, the circumstances that obtain in their countries of origin or because they wish to make a better life for themselves. This simple fact should make one pause and consider. While they do not wish to be exploited and have a right not to be, their principal motivation as human beings often is that fundamental motivation shared by all, that is, to make a better life for themselves. The exploitation of young people in such circumstances is a particularly vile feature of the phenomenon of migration. Any civilised country or society must regard as a matter for condemnation the circumstances in which young people, who are attempting to flee poverty in their own countries or some form of oppression or who simply wish to improve the conditions of their lives and futures, fall into the clutches of the lowest form of criminals. I refer to those who are prepared to grow wealthy from trafficking and exploiting people in prostitution.

I welcome the Bill's publication and was impressed by the breadth of the Minister's analysis and description of the problem, both nationally and internationally. It forms a good basis on which to have the debate required by Members and wider society on this issue. While part of the function of debate in these Houses is to introduce the best legislation possible, it also is to signal to wider society that legislators take seriously this issue. It should be signalled in the most public way that it is not a practice we will allow to continue. Even if we are addressing this question a little late, it is important we are doing so now.

I agree with my colleagues' statements on the vital contribution made by a number of different organisations in respect of trafficking. National Government organisations and voluntary organisations have been raising the issue over the years, sometimes with very little response from politicians. Ruhama, which has been mentioned by some of my colleagues, has been to the fore in this area. I had the pleasure of meeting some of its representatives during the course of the general election campaign because some of them live in Dublin South. I was left with a very clear message from the organisation that this issue needed to be addressed in a robust way by the Legislature. I am glad we are now doing so.

I am not suggesting human trafficking is morally equivalent to any other form of exploitation but believe strongly that it is another feature of exploitation and forced labour which unfortunately comprise a phenomenon of developed countries, including Ireland. I have raised the issue of labour standards in Ireland. I am not suggesting this is an aspect of the same issue as it is a discrete area that deserves to be dealt with in its own right. We are reminded that an increase in wealth and economic activity is accompanied by the emergence of an ugly underbelly of which trafficking is one example. Our legislation needs to deal with it specifically and also to understand that where there is success and economic achievement, there is also an ugly form of exploitation.

I look forward to addressing some of the specifics of the Bill that I do not regard as absolutely satisfactory. The question of the protection of victims must be addressed. It was considered in the other House but has not been resolved adequately. The Minister of State has been inclined to say the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2008 will deal with some of these questions but it only deals with non-EEA immigration. As Ruhama and other organisations have pointed out very compellingly, a very large percentage of young people trafficked into Ireland come from eastern European countries that are now members of the European Union. It will not be sufficient to state the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill will be the vehicle with which to deal with victim support.

Senator Boyle referred to the risk of deporting victims. One could find oneself trafficked into Ireland and exploited and then deported if the exploitation comes to an end, perhaps as a result of an economic bust. The Senator was correct to raise this issue but he will accept that the risk he outlined is not resolved in the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Bill 2007. It is a serious question and needs to be addressed. This ought to be achieved in this Bill rather than in another. Let us adopt an holistic approach rather than a narrow one based on criminal law.

I thank the Minister of State, Deputy Brendan Smith, for his speech which was an exemplary model of how a Bill should be presented in this House. I compliment him on the extraordinary work he did in respect of the child care subvention scheme introduced on 18 December. I do not apologise for complimenting him thereon. It was a tremendous political achievement.

In May 2006, Irish citizens were shocked by the "Prime Time Investigates" programme on prostitution, particularly prostitution in Dublin. The show depicted a hotel and apartment block where women, including trafficked women, were being used for prostitution. I contend that 99.9% of Irish people, including myself, were shocked and horrified this was happening in Ireland and that Irish men would stoop so low to abuse women in the manner described, as I stated in the Seanad at the time of the revelations. The show was a very good example of how a television programme can point to activities in respect of which laws should be enacted.

Since the television programme, representatives from CORI and Ruhama were before Oireachtas committees. The former Leader of the Seanad, Deputy Mary O'Rourke, promised to ensure legislation on human trafficking would be brought before the Oireachtas. One of the first statements made by her nephew, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy Brian Lenihan, when he entered office was that he would do so.

The clergy in Ireland, including the organisations CORI and the Irish Missionary Union, have been to the fore in exposing the trafficking of women into Ireland. Sister Frances Robinson of the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity appeared before the Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights two years ago and stated:

My main concern in this presentation is to highlight the terrible consequences for women who are trafficked. I invite the committee to consider the following job advertisement. It was devised to raise awareness by Whisper, an organisation concerned by trafficking[.]

Help Wanted: Women and Girls

Do YOU want this job?

No experience required. No high school diploma needed. No minimum age requirement. On-the-job training provided.

Special opportunities for poor women — single mothers — women of color.

Women and girls applying for this position will provide the following services:

Being penetrated orally, anally, and vaginally with penises, fingers, fists, and objects [;]

Being bound and gagged, tied with ropes and/or chains, burned with cigarettes, or hung from beams or trees;

Being photographed or filmed performing these acts.


Job-related activities will be performed in the following locations: in an apartment, a hotel, a "massage parlor", car, doorway, hallway, street, executive suite ... bar, public toilet, public park[.]


Wages will be negotiated at each and every transaction. Payment will be delivered when client determines when and if services have been rendered to his satisfaction.

Corporate management fees range from 40-60% of wages[.]


Benefits will be provided at the discretion of management.


Nonpayment for services rendered;

Sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy;

Injuries sustained through performance of services including but not limited to cuts, bruises, lacerations, internal hemorrhaging, broken bones, suffocation, mutilation, disfigurement, dismemberment, and death.

Note: Accusations of rape will be treated as a breach of contract by employee.

Sister Frances Robinson asked members of the committee how many of us would encourage a sister, daughter, wife or partner to apply for such a job. Do such jobs exist? They do.

At the time of the presentation by Sister Frances Robinson, we had no legislation making trafficking a crime. I am so pleased to have met those who brought this to my attention. I could not believe what was happening in our country.

The Bill will criminalise trafficking, which I welcome. However, it does not set out guidelines for the protection and support of the victims of trafficking. I wish to put forward some procedures which should be in place for the victims. They should include legislation which sets out services to be provided for victims having an understanding of the needs of trafficked persons and the importance of victim assistance; legislation which regards the trafficked persons as victims and not as criminals; and legislation which does not force the victim to decide on seeking asylum or returning to their country of origin for a period of four months while recovering from their trauma. I urge the Minister to include these points to aid victims in rebuilding some semblance of a life for themselves.

Trafficking is a not merely a potential problem for Ireland, it is an absolute and real problem. The Minister of State raised the question of whether we should provide for the criminalisation of using or availing of the services of a trafficked person. It should be a crime and we should create an offence of using the services of people who are trafficked. As the Minister of State said, it would send out a message that using the services of a trafficked person is unacceptable and could potentially have repercussions for the client. We should consider such a provision.

Debate adjourned.