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Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is a form of slavery. It’s a crime and a human rights violation. And it’s happening in Ireland. Let’s end it now. Be vigilant: call 1800 25 00 25 or email

What is it?


Trafficking takes place when all of these three elements are present:

  • ACT – a person is recruited, transported, transferred, harboured or received
  • MEANS – a person is threatened, forced or coerced in some way, through abduction, fraud, deception, the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or through the giving or receiving of payments
  • EXPLOITATION – a person is exploited (ie sexual exploitation, labour exploitation or organ removal)

Children and trafficking

A child cannot consent to being trafficked.

Borders and trafficking

A person doesn’t have to have crossed a border for trafficking to have taken place – it can and does take place within national borders.

Where does it happen?

Trafficking is happening worldwide and it also exists in Ireland. People can be trafficked into different types of work including:

  • restaurant and hotel work
  • domestic work
  • construction
  • agriculture
  • entertainment
  • prostitution
  • other forms of commercial sexual exploitation

Ireland’s response


The Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008 deals with human trafficking in Ireland. Under this Act, courts can impose penalties of up to life imprisonment and unlimited fines on those convicted of trafficking people for labour or sexual exploitation or for removing a person’s organs.

European legislation

The 2008 Act builds on the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998. This will be amended to give effect to Directive 2011/36/EU on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims.  

Immigration arrangements

Pending the enactment of the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill, a victim of trafficking can stay in Ireland for 60 days of recovery and reflection, even if they have no legal right to remain in the country.

This can be followed by a six-month renewable temporary residence permission where they want to help An Garda Síochána or other authorities in any investigation or prosecution relating to their alleged trafficking. 

Anti-Human Trafficking Unit

The Anti-Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU) of the Department of Justice and Equality co-ordinates Ireland’s comprehensive response to human trafficking. A key element of this strategy is the National Action Plan to Prevent and Combat Trafficking in Human Beings in Ireland 2009 – 2012. A second National Action Plan is currently being developed.

Other anti-human trafficking units 

These units also provide services to victims of human trafficking :

  • The Human Trafficking Investigation and Co-ordination Unit in the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB)
  • The Anti-Human Trafficking Team in the Health Service Executive (HSE)
  • The specialised Human Trafficking legal team in the Legal Aid Board (LAB)
  • The New Communities and Asylum Seekers Unit in the Department of Social Protection helps victims of trafficking move from Reception and Integration Centres to independent living facilities
  • The office of the Director for Public Prosecutions (DPP) deals with the prosecution of human trafficking cases

Support for victims

Ireland has put in place a National Referral Mechanism, which covers all aspects of victim support from the initial encounter to finding longer-term solutions. Services vary depending on the status and needs of each person but can include:

  • Accommodation
  • Medical care and planning
  • Psychological assistance
  • Material assistance
  • Legal aid and advice
  • Access to the labour market
  • Vocational training and education
  • Police services
  • Crime prevention
  • Repatriation
  • Compensation
  • Translation and interpretation services

Awareness and training

A number of awareness raising and training activities have taken place to increase awareness of human trafficking. Visit the Blue Blindfold anti-human trafficking campaign website for more details.

What you can do to help

Know the signs

An important part of the fight against human trafficking is making sure you’re aware of the signs of trafficking. A person who is trafficked will generally meet more than one of the signs and your vigilance could save someone one day. 

Report your suspicions

If you suspect someone is a victim of trafficking, contact Crimestoppers on 1800 25 00 25 or email

Contact details

Anti-Human Trafficking Unit

Department of Justice and Equality

51 St Stephen’s Green

Dublin 2

D02 HK52

Phone: + 353 1 602 8878

Fax: + 353 1 602 8276


Blue Blindfold campaign

For further information on human trafficking, visit the dedicated website: