Dozens trafficked into Ireland for labour and sex exploitation
At least 46 people were trafficked into Ireland for sexual or labour exploitation last year, according to a US government report.
Gardaí saw an increase in suspected victims of forced labour, forced criminal activity and forced begging from Eastern Europe, particularly Romania. There was also an increase in potential sex trafficking victims from Brazil.
The information was supplied by Irish authorities to the US Department of State.
The report warned that Irish children were also subjected to sex trafficking within the country. Victims of forced labour were found working in domestic homes, the restaurant industry and car wash services.
Of the 46 suspected victims identified, 13 were children.
Fifteen were from Romania, eight from Brazil, and eight from Ireland, with the rest from other nations.
Most of those identified are believed to have been sexually exploited, while seven cases involved labour exploitation. Four people identified are believed to have been forced into criminal activity and one into begging.
The report gave Ireland a 'tier one' categorisation, which is the highest possible, for its efforts in tackling human trafficking.
It said that the Government had increased investigations of trafficking crimes and issued new guidelines aimed at preventing the exploitation of domestic workers by foreign diplomats.
Anti-trafficking training was provided to 131 gardaí, and senior officers attended a two-day anti-trafficking seminar.
The Defence Forces were also given anti-trafficking training before being deployed abroad on peacekeeping missions.
However, the report was critical of the lack of convictions for sex or labour trafficking in 2014.
The report also noted that potential victims of forced labour in cannabis production were prosecuted and imprisoned for crimes they may have been forced to commit.
The Immigrant Council of Ireland said the report showed shortfalls in the Irish response to human trafficking and that a national action plan was needed.
It also called for the introduction of laws targeting people who pay for sex.