Minister Shatter publishes Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) (Amendment) Bill 2013

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter TD, today announced the publication of the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) (Amendment) Bill 2013.

This short Bill is necessary to transpose in full the criminal law provisions of an EU directive. Most of the criminal law measures in Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/629/JHA have already been implemented by the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008.  However, the directive provides for the criminalisation of two additional forms of exploitation not covered by existing legislation, i.e., trafficking for the purposes of forced begging and trafficking for criminal activities.

Making the announcement, Minister Shatter said: "Trafficking in human beings should not be tolerated and I believe that everything possible should be done to ensure the protection of those vulnerable to human trafficking and to bring to justice those who benefit from it.  The Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008 already criminalises human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation, labour exploitation (including subjecting a person to forced labour) and exploitation for the removal of human organs.  The new Bill expands the definition of human trafficking to ensure that people are not exploited for the purposes of forced begging and trafficking for criminal activities.  This change will bring our legislation into full compliance with the relevant EU Directive.

The new bill adopts the definition of forced labour in the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention of 1930 on Forced or Compulsory Labour and will essentially incorporate into Irish law the ILO definition of forced labour. Subject to certain specific exceptions, it is defined under the Bill as "a work or service which is exacted from a person under the menace of any penalty and for which the person has not offered himself or herself voluntarily."

Minister Shatter concluded "We have a duty to ensure that vulnerable individuals are not exploited and that a comprehensive approach is taken to tackling the evil of human trafficking.  This Bill, in implementing outstanding criminal law requirements in the 2011 EU directive, will provide a crucial additional protection for those at risk of trafficking."

16 April 2013

ENDS

Note for Editors:

Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/629/JHA was adopted in April, 2011.  

Main Provisions of the Bill

Section 1: Amendment of section 1 of Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008

Section 1 of the Bill substitutes the definitions of "exploitation" and "labour exploitation" in the 2008 Act in order to bring forced begging and exploitation of criminal activities within the scope of exploitative conduct covered by our trafficking legislation.

Section 1 also inserts two new definitions - "beg" and "forced labour" - into section 1 of the 2008 Act.

The term "beg" has the same meaning as in the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 2011 and the definition of "forced labour" is based on the definition of that term in ILO Convention No. 29 of 1930 concerning Forced or Compulsory Labour.

Section 2: Amendment of Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008

Article 4, paragraph 3 of the directive provides that Member States shall take the necessary measures to ensure that the fact that a human trafficking offence was committed by public officials in the performance of their duties is regarded as an aggravating circumstance.

Section 2 of the Bill implements this mandatory requirement for the specific offences of trafficking a child for a purpose other than sexual exploitation (section 2 of the 2008 Act) and trafficking an adult (section 4 of the 2008 Act). It provides that where such an offence is committed by a public official during the performance of his or functions as a public official, this circumstance shall be treated as an aggravating factor when the court is determining the sentence to be imposed. Unless a life sentence is being imposed or there are exceptional circumstances justifying its not doing so, the court is required to impose a sentence that is greater than would have been imposed in the absence of this aggravating circumstance.

"Public official" is defined as an officer or employee of a public body, the term "public body" to be construed in accordance with the Ethics in Public Office Act 1995.

Section 3: Amendment of Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998

Section 3 of the Bill mirrors section 2 for the offence of trafficking a child for sexual exploitation (section 3 of the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998).

Section 4: Short title and commencement

Section 4 specifies the short title of the Act and provides for its coming into operation one month from the date it has passed.