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Legislative Process

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 8 July 2021

Thursday, 8 July 2021

Questions (140)

Cathal Crowe

Question:

140. Deputy Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Justice if the expungement of 607 sex-work convictions announced by her Department on 25 April 2021 has taken place. [36591/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

In April of this year, Minister McEntee announced an initiative to expunge previous convictions for ‘sale of sex’, or prostitution offences. This is a significant step in recognising and responding to the needs of victims of sex trafficking, and those forced to provide sexual services.

The expungement has not yet taken place because in order to do so, legislative amendments need to be drafted and advanced.

It is generally recognised that prostitution is inherently exploitative of vulnerable persons, mainly women and girls, and that many people are forced into prostitution through trafficking, drug addiction, homelessness and poverty. It has not been an offence to sell sex in Ireland since 2017 but for those who have succeeded in exiting prostitution, previous convictions can be a significant obstacle as they attempt to move on with their lives.

The initiative to expunge convictions firmly asserts our national policy position that the focus of An Garda Síochána’s attention is not directed towards those in the sex trade, who are exploited and victimised, but rather towards those who are responsible for exploiting them and those who purchase and demand services.

The offences in question will be those secured under section 7 or 8 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 1993, where the person was convicted on the basis of evidence that they were offering their services as a prostitute to another person.

An Garda Síochána have identified 607 convictions comprising 402 convictions recorded for soliciting or importuning for the purposes of prostitution, contrary to section 7 and 205 convictions for loitering for the purposes of prostitution – failing to comply with a direction of a Garda, contrary to Section 8.

An offence of brothel keeping will not be expunged as it remains a criminal offence. However, as with any criminal conviction, if new evidence comes to light that would impact the basis on which the person was originally convicted, that person can seek to have the conviction overturned/quashed. In such instances, the person is advised to seek legal advice.

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