A campaign to assist members of the public in recognising and identifying a victim of human trafficking is needed to detect such offences and to support victims, according to Senator Mary Seery Kearney.
Senator Seery Kearney highlighted the need for awareness around human trafficking and the exploitation of vulnerable people as the Garda National Protective Services Bureau reported on their recent operations to combat human trafficking.
Senator Seery Kearney said, “At a recent debate in the Seanad in the context of Human Trafficking legislation, I raised the need for a publicity campaign to assist the public in recognising the signs of persons who may be trafficked and are being obliged to perform a service with Minister of State, James Browne. “I am very conscious that members of the public are engaging services via platforms and may well be finding themselves unwittingly supporting criminality and exploitation of trafficked persons.
“The Gardaí are clearly working extremely well in the detection of trafficking. I very much welcome the report yesterday from Detective Inspector Daniel Kelly at the Joint Policing Committee of Dublin City Council that showed that the Gardai recorded 44 adult victims of human trafficking in 2021; 28 females and 16 males. “While 25 were victims of sexual exploitation, 19 were victims of labour exploitation. “Given that the victims can be male or female and trafficked for sexual and/or labour exploitation, it is important that an information campaign breaks any stereotype that may be in the mind of the public.
“We know from previous reports from the NGOs in this area that the labour exploitation can include nail bars, cleaning services- all services that members of the public could unwittingly engage. “Members of the public are increasingly using online platforms to employ people to provide domestic, gardening or hospitality services at their homes. In most cases, users are unaware of the individual’s legal status or other details, and instead are reliant on the bona fides of the platform. “This demonstrates a clear need for the public to be made aware of how to spot the signs that a person has been trafficked, as the fear is of course that the current numbers being recorded are merely a drop in the ocean compared to the actual figures.
“I have written to Minister Browne to see how we, as a Government, may support and advance the admirable actions of the Garda and the NGOs by educating the public. “I have also written to Detective Garda Daniel Kelly to congratulate them on their work and to seek their advice on how best to provide support in the wider community in combatting human trafficking. “There is a whole suite of supports for victims of traffickers once they come forward to either the Gardaí or the NGOs working in this area. There are victim information cards available and the Gardaí circulate information demonstrating their support for victims, so it is important that we also convey the message for victims not to be afraid,” Senator Seery Kearney concluded.