Progress made in Action Against Victims of Trafficking but no Statutory Identification of Victims

01 May 2014

A new report published today (Thursday, 1 May) by the ESRI/EMN Ireland provides an analysis of measures to identify victims of trafficking in human beings in asylum and forced return procedures in Ireland. The report finds that while progress has been made in actions against trafficking, a general onus on victims to self-report still exists.

The report, Identifying Victims of Trafficking in Human Beings in Asylum and Forced Return Procedures: Ireland, has found:

  • No system exists for the formal identification of all victims of trafficking. Limited ‘proactive’ screening is in place in asylum procedures, with a reliance on self-reporting in later stages.
  • Potential victims face differences in treatment depending on what part of the immigration system they fall under.

“The absence of clarity around current arrangements leaves some victims of trafficking unable to access the same level of supports and protection as others,” said co-author of the report, Corona Joyce.  “While some progress has been made – such as the adoption of anti-human trafficking legislation, coordination of a National Referral Mechanism and the roll-out of awareness-raising training – no stand-alone, statutory identification procedure for all victims of trafficking is in place.”

Extended levels of support and protection apply only (as per the Administrative Immigration Arrangements for Victims of Trafficking, see ‘Note for Editor’) to foreign nationals who have been identified as ‘suspected’ victims of trafficking and who have no immigration status to remain in Ireland. These supports include education, training and targeted work supports. These supports are not provided to applicants for asylum and other statuses.

This report is part of a wider EU study* which found that there is evidence of victims going unidentified. Risk assessment interviews prior to a return can offer the opportunity for authorities to detect possible victimisation. The role of specialised NGOs in identifying victims is highlighted, along with the importance of training asylum case workers in how to proactively detect signs of trafficking in the course of processing asylum applications.

These findings are further backed up by national research and commentary which finds that identification procedures in Ireland are confined to victims who require permission to remain in Ireland and result in a ‘two-tiered’ system. Calls have been made to widen those involved in the identification process to include bodies such as NGOs, and to place the rights to support and protection for victims of trafficking on a statutory footing. GRETA Council of Europe (2013) has invited Irish authorities to consider placing human trafficking identification under different structures to that of immigration control.

* 23 EU Member States plus Norway participated in this study


For further information on the research please contact:
Corona Joyce (Senior Policy Officer, EMN) 01 863 2060, 086 370 1947, [email protected]

Donnacha Ó Súilleabháin (Press Office, ESRI) 01 863 2122, 087 913 5235, [email protected].

Notes for editors:

1.   Identifying Victims of Trafficking in Human Beings in Asylum and Forced Return Procedures: Ireland was authored by Corona Joyce and Emma Quinn, and will be published on 1 May 2014. The embargo is until 3pm,  1 May 2014.

2.   The Administrative Immigration Arrangements for the Protection of Victims of Human Trafficking were introduced in June 2008 to coincide with the enactment of the first specific anti-trafficking legislation: the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008. In Ireland, if a ‘foreign national’ is identified as a potential or suspected victim of trafficking, and does not otherwise have ‘valid immigration permission’, specific administrative arrangements may be availed of. Two forms of residence permission are provided for in the Administrative Arrangements:

  • An initial ‘recovery and reflection’ period of 60 days, the purpose of which is to allow the person time to recover from the alleged trafficking experience and to escape from any influence of the alleged perpetrators. The time is also intended to allow an alleged victim to take an ‘informed decision’ as to whether to assist the authorities in relation to an investigation or prosecution in respect of alleged trafficking.
  • A renewable, 6 month ‘temporary residence permission’ is granted in cases whereby the Minister is satisfied that ‘the person has severed all relations with the alleged perpetrators of the trafficking’ and ‘it is necessary for the purpose of allowing the suspected victim to continue to assist the Garda Síochána or other relevant authorities in relation to an investigation or prosecution arising in relation to the trafficking’. The permission is renewable provided that renewed contact with the alleged perpetrators has not taken place, and where it is necessary for the purpose of an investigation or prosecution in relation to the trafficking.

3.   How are victims identified?

  • Recent legal and institutional developments provide for clearer definitions of trafficking, the adoption of anti-human trafficking legislation, coordination of a National Referral Mechanism and for the roll-out of awareness-raising training, particularly among law-enforcement personnel.
  • Victims can only be identified by members of the Garda National Immigration Bureau (Human Trafficking Investigation and Coordination Unit).
    • There is limited screening of victims by authorities during asylum claims. At later stages there is a heavy reliance on victims to self-report.

4.   What supports are in place?

  • Access to general supports (accommodation, legal, medical) is available to all those referred to An Garda Síochána as alleged victims of human trafficking.
  • Two immigration permissions are provided for following commencement of an investigation: a 60 day ‘recovery and reflection’ period and a renewable 6 month temporary residence permission (under Administrative Immigration Arrangements).

5.   What restrictions exist on these supports?

  • Concurrent immigration permissions are not provided for in Irish law e.g. an applicant for asylum is not eligible for permission under the Administrative Immigration Arrangements.
  • Residence permission is provided only for foreign nationals who have been identified as ‘suspected’ victims of trafficking and who have no immigration status to remain in Ireland.

6.   The ESRI acts as the Irish National Contact Point of the European Migration Network (EMN). The aim of EMN is to provide up-to-date, objective, reliable and comparable information on migration and asylum at member state and EU-level (see

7.   The EMN is co-funded by the European Commission DG Home Affairs and the Irish Department of Justice and Equality.

8.   All EMN studies are compiled according to common specifications and an EU-level synthesis report is subsequently produced. under different structures to that of immigration control.

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