Child trafficking a ‘modern slave trade’
Jennifer Hough-Irish Examiner
THE Government has been accused of refusing to acknowledge a "modern slave trade" exists
in this country, in the form of child trafficking.
The claim was made by the Children’s Rights Alliance (CRA), which is helping to step up
pressure to influence change. Irish rights groups, it emerged yesterday, have joined a global
campaign aimed at ending child trafficking, which they say can no longer be ignored.
The Children’s Rights Alliance and the Irish Refugee Council warned the Government needs to
implement stricter anti-trafficking policies and legislation to prevent the problem from
Child trafficking has been identified as an issue here after official figures, dating back to 2000,
show a total of 496 children placed in the care of the HSE have gone missing. The vast
majority, 434, have not been traced.
The head of the Children’s Rights Alliance, Jillian van Turnhout, said in order to stop child
trafficking, public awareness needs to be heightened.
"The Government must do more to guarantee children and young people their right to
protection from traffickers," she said.
"There is a reluctance to acknowledge that this very modern slave trade is happening here in
Ireland. The evidence from child victims identified in Ireland cannot be ignored any longer.
Child trafficking is not easy to spot and not easy to talk about, but if we are all aware of it,
then we are in a better position to stop children falling through the cracks. We can, and must,
stop child trafficking," she said.
The CRA said it was, once again, calling on the State to acknowledge the existence of child
trafficking in Ireland and to put in place measures to tackle it, including the provision of
adequate care and accommodation for separated children, raising their level of care to the
same standard as other children in HSE care.
Furthermore, the alliance said, there was an urgent need to provide legal protection, safe
accommodation and therapeutic supports for child victims of trafficking.
Robin Hanan, of the Irish Refugee Council, said the campaign had come at a very important
"We are all becoming more aware of the scale and human impact of the international trade in
human beings," he said.
"Government, voluntary organisations and the HSE are increasingly co-operating to put in
place plans, training and actions to fight trafficking at home and internationally.
"We are aware, in particular, of the vulnerability of separated children arriving in Ireland to
trafficking and we welcome the recent government decision to end the use of separately run
hostels for separated children seeking asylum and accommodate children in mainstream care,
on a par with other children in the care system. The implementation of this decision will be
vital to the protection of children."