Ireland is a “weak link” in a worldwide push by the United Nations to bring pimps running child prostitution to justice, according to the Immigrant Council of Ireland.
The council declared that Ireland is the only European nation that has failed to ratify a special UN protocol on the sale of children.
Other countries joining Ireland on the list of countries that have not ratified the special protocol are Liberia, Zambia and Kenya.
The Immigrant Council called on the Irish Government yesterday to use the publication of a new Sex Crimes Bill to ensure Ireland signs up to the international child protection measure.
The UN optional protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography has been ratified by 169 countries.
It contains commitments to introduce laws to combat child abuse, seize the assets and cash of pimps and criminal gangs as well as extradition proceedings.
“Our failure to join all other western democracies – South America, Russia, China, India and most of the world – in ratifying the UN-backed agreement is inexplicable,” said Brian Killoran, chief executive of the council.
“It leaves us on a list which is largely made up of African nations and some Pacific island states,” he said.
Many of the measures
contained in the protocol are already covered by Irish law making our failure all the more difficult to understand.
“The trafficking of children is an international crime which not only crosses borders but crosses continents.
“It requires a co-ordinated global response. By not signing up to this protocol, we risk being a weak link,” he said.
“As a front-line agency we know at first hand that our communities are not immune from these crimes.
“Many of the 19 victims of sex trafficking we supported in the past year entered prostitution as children,” he said.
Denise Charlton, anti-trafficking consultant with the Immigrant Council, said the imminent publication of the new sex crimes bill is an opportunity for the Government to make an international commitment to target gangs which organise theses crimes.
The new law will include offences of child grooming.
The bill also contains a number of measures which specifically target the actual buyers of sex.
“Child trafficking is a reality with 30 children identified as trafficked in Ireland over a two-year period,” said Ms Charlton.
“Together with the 73 organisations of the Turn Off the Red Light Campaign, we look forward to the publication of the bill in the coming weeks.
“We will work to ensure the measures contained will become reality as quickly as possible,” she said.