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The Role of the Irish State in Dealing with Human Trafficking: What are the Constraints on Current Practices of the Main State Organisations in Tackling Human Trafficking and Protecting its Victims in Ireland?

Human trafficking is internationally recognised as a complex and multi-faceted criminal act that violates human rights of vulnerable groups of people, especially women and children. As a consequence, national and international policies have been adopted and are now in operation.

The Irish State has made available resources and services to facilitate the implementation of the Human Trafficking Act 2008 and has made great efforts to make Ireland a hostile environment for traffickers.

Numerous positive developments in the areas of investigation, conviction and prevention of human trafficking, and the protection of trafficked victims have been realised. Despite this, the Irish State’s current approach to tackling this crime and its anti-human trafficking legislation were criticised by many concerned parties, such as the media and NGOs. Consequently the Irish government was recently called on to introduce the “Swedish Model” which criminalises purchase of sexual services as a means to tackling the crime. This thesis argues, however, that the State does need new legislation such the Swedish Model, but requires rather the restructuring of existing policies and services to deal successfully with this complex problem.

The qualitative research intends to identify the role and response of the Irish State in dealing with trafficking in persons, to evaluate the achievements of state organisations’ current practices in handling human trafficking and upholding its victims, to investigate constraints which may affect the efficiency of these practices, and finally to explore the impact of current practices on the well-being of victims.

The participants were selected through purposeful and snowball sampling methods. The methods used to gather their perspectives on state agencies‟ practices and constraints were through semi-structured interviews and oral testimonies methods.

The analysis of the primary and secondary data underscore that the Irish Human Trafficking Act 2008 has the potential to respond to this crime by convicting its perpetrators and safeguarding its victims in Ireland. However, there are huge obstacles that still remain on current practices of the state organisations which need to be addressed.


Odette Reidy 2011


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