Government approves proposal for Trafficking legislation

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr. Michael McDowell, T.D., announced that the Government had approved his proposals to draft a Criminal Law (Trafficking in Persons and Sexual Offences) Bill.

Legislation already in place deals primarily with smuggling of human beings and trafficking in children for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Announcing the Government's decision, the Minister said that the new Bill "will introduce specific offences of trafficking in persons for the purposes of their sexual and labour exploitation and for the removal of organs with severe penalties provided for persons convicted of a trafficking offence."

The Minister said "The Bill provides for full compliance with the EU Council Framework Decisions on combating trafficking in human beings and combating the sexual exploitation of children and child pornography.  Three other international instruments have also been taken into consideration - the Protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, supplementing the UN Convention against Trans-national Organised Crime; the Council of Europe Convention against trafficking in human beings and the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography."

The legislation also includes measures providing children with greater protection under the criminal law against sexual exploitation.  These take into account the use of modern technology such as the Internet in the sexual grooming of children and at protecting children from exposure to pornography and to sexual activity engaged in by others.  It provides more protection to children against persons who offer inducements to them to engage in sexual acts and hits hard at persons who ácontrol or organise in any way the sexual exploitation of children.

The Minister said that, based on almost 5 years experience in the operation of the Sex Offenders Act 2001, he was making several changes to the Act, including raising the penalty for failure to register from 12 months to 5 years imprisonment, thus making it an arrestable offence, and giving probation officers power to prosecute offenders who fail to comply with the terms of a post release supervision order.

Other important measures included in the Bill relate to risk assessment of sex offenders, under which the Garda Síochána and the Probation Service will cooperate in assessing the risk posed by such offenders. This information can be shared with police in other jurisdictions with which we have an understanding or agreement on such sharing when sex offenders move between jurisdictions. The Minister said that a Memorandum of Understanding has been agreed with the UK authorities over the sharing of such information and he hopes to sign this Memorandum soon. 

The Minister summed up his proposals saying "The proposals are the latest chapter in a strategy in providing comprehensive protection under the criminal law to persons, in particular children and other vulnerable persons, against sexual abuse and attack.  If any recommendations arise from the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Child Protection which require further legislation for the protection of children these can be incorporated into the Bill once they are approved by Government."


19 July 2006