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Anti-Human Trafficking Measures


The Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008 enacted on 7 June 2008 provides for penalties of up to life imprisonment and - at the discretion of the court - an unlimited fine for trafficking of persons for the purposes of labour or sexual exploitation or for the removal of a person’s organs. The 2008 Act builds on the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998. 

Administrative Immigration Arrangements

Pending the enactment of the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill, the Administrative Arrangements for the protection of victims of trafficking provide for the granting of a 60 day recovery and reflection period for persons who have no legal basis to remain in the State.  This can be followed by a 6 month renewable temporary residence permission where the trafficked person wishes to assist An Garda Síochána or other relevant authorities in any investigation or prosecution in relation to the alleged trafficking.

Anti-Human Trafficking Unit

The Anti-Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU), established in the Department of Justice and Equality in February 2008, is working diligently to ensure that the Irish response to trafficking in human beings is coordinated, comprehensive and holistic.  A key element of this strategy is the National Action Plan to Prevent and Combat Trafficking in Human Beings in Ireland 2009 - 2012 which was published by the Minister for Justice and Equality in June 2009 and is available at   A second National Action Plan is currently being developed.

Other dedicated Anti-Human Trafficking Units

In addition to the AHTU there are 3 other dedicated Units in State Agencies dealing with this issue, the Human Trafficking Investigation and Co-ordination Unit in the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB), the Anti-Human Trafficking Team in the Health Service Executive (HSE) and a specialised Human Trafficking legal team in the Legal Aid Board (LAB).  These Units have been set up as a response to Ireland’s international obligations to provide services to victims of human trafficking. Dedicated personnel in the New Communities and Asylum Seekers Unit in the Department of Social Protection are assigned to assist victims of trafficking in the transition from Reception and Integration centres to independent living facilities.  Furthermore, dedicated personnel in the office of the Director for Public Prosecutions (DPP) are assigned to deal with the prosecution of human trafficking cases.

Assistance to victims of human trafficking

The National Referral Mechanism is the term used to describe:
(i)  The comprehensive consultation structures involving Governmental, Non-Governmental and International organisations.
(ii) The process by which a suspected victim of human trafficking is identified;
(iii) The range of assistance and support services available to potential and suspected victims of human trafficking;
(iv) How potential and suspected victims are referred or can apply to access each of those services.

Services available under the National Referral Mechanism

The range of assistance and support services available to victims of trafficking in Ireland vary depending on the status and requirements of the individual.  The services available include:
accommodation; medical care and planning; psychological assistance; material assistance; legal aid and advice; access to the labour market;  vocational training and education; police services; crime prevention; repatriation; compensation; translation and interpretation services; etc.

Awareness Raising & Training

A number of awareness raising and training activities have been undertaken to increase awareness of this crime.  Details can be viewed on the dedicated anti-trafficking website

Contact Details

The Anti-Human Trafficking Unit can be contacted by post, telephone, fax and e-mail:

Address:  Anti-Human Trafficking Unit
Department of Justice and Equality
51 St. Stephen's Green
Dublin 2
Phone: + 353 1 602-8878
Fax: + 353 1 602-8276


For more information on the Blue Blindfold campaign, visit

Nominations of Irish candidates for election to the Council of Europe Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA).