'Sex buyer laws' needed in fight against human trafficking
Urgent action is needed to ensure Ireland does not become a centre for international sex trafficking, the Immigrant Council of Ireland has said.
The council has called on the Government to introduce tougher "sex buyer laws" that would hit the criminal gangs involved in the illegal trade.
It says action is needed to ensure Ireland is not regarded as a "soft target" by these gangs who make their money from sex trafficking and prostitution.
The council has submitted a list of 18 recommendations as part of a proposed national plan to combat human trafficking.
It also calls for the appointment of an independent national rapporteur.
The council says there should be "non-discriminatory victim identification" and the practice of placing victims in 'direct provision centres' should be ended.
There should also be procedures that would allow the criminal records of victims to be expunged.
"The decision to proceed with a national action plan honours a commitment given by Government three years ago, and is an opportunity to ensure that the shortfalls in Irish laws, policies, and procedures, are corrected," said council chief executive Brian Killoran.
"At the Immigrant Council, we are committed to being pro-actively involved in the process of ensuring we have a plan, which is effective in targeting demand for human trafficking, while also ensuring that victims are treated with respect and not as criminals."
He added: "We are asking the Minister for Justice, Deputy Frances Fitzgerald, to act without further delay.
"This is to ensure Ireland is not perceived as a soft target by the organised gangs which run prostitution and sex trafficking."