Accommodation for Trafficking Victims Remains a Chronic Problem

Ireland’s Human Trafficking Rapporteur Tells EU of Continuing Failings in Accommodation

Ireland’s National Rapporteur on the Trafficking of Human Beings, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (“the Commission”) has reported to the EU’s anti-trafficking coordinator, that while welcome progress has been made in the State’s effort to fight exploitation and support victims of human trafficking, the inability to provide appropriate accommodation support to victims remains a chronic problem.

The State’s commitment to establish a specialised shelter with gender-specific services for victims has been repeatedly delayed and remains unfulfilled to date. The Commission also expresses serious concerns that victims of trafficking continue to be housed in the inappropriate Direct Provision (DP) system, administered by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY). This approach does not amount to a safe and gender-specific arrangement for trafficked victims.

The Commission has warned that the accommodation of victims of trafficking must not be treated as a secondary issue in the process of implementation of the Government White Paper. However, the reality of 2021 showed that the gender-specific accommodation of victims of trafficking remains a neglected matter.

This is the Commission’s first report to the EU NREM network (EU Network of National Rapporteurs and Equivalent Mechanisms).  The report represents the contribution of the independent Irish Rapporteur on Human Trafficking to the 4th EU Report on the Progress made in the fight against human trafficking in the period of 2019 to 2021.

The Commission welcomes increased funding for services from the Department of Justice during the reporting period, the first convictions secured under anti-trafficking laws and much-needed investment in awareness raising as signs of positive progress.

Statistical trends reported by the Commission show that while forced labour, and to a lesser extent forced criminal activities, form part of Ireland’s human trafficking problem, it is trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation which dominates. This accounted for 70% of all victims in 2019-2021 rising from 52% in 2017-2019. In addition, trends show that the proportion of female victims has increased from 64% in 2017-2019 to 80% in 2019-2021 while the percentage of males has dropped by 16%.

Overall, there seems to be a reduction in identified victims of human trafficking. During 2017-2019 there were 181 victims of trafficking detected, in 2019-2021 their number was 124, a decrease of over 30%. This reduction may be due to the impact of Covid-19 on travel and on victim identification.

This submission was made as the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, and from its perspective as a National Rapporteur, the Commission is now warning of the need for the State to take specific actions to protect Ukrainian refugees. This includes through information in Ukrainian on Trafficking, on reporting mechanisms for bogus/exploitative offers of assistance, with information employment rights, and greater workplace inspections.

Sinéad Gibney, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission said,

“The provision of safe and appropriate housing for victims of trafficking is an international obligation for the State. While the Commission welcomes recent commitments from the Government to improve supports and facilities for victims, concrete action is urgently needed to deliver for victims.

“We have repeatedly stressed the need for gender specific accommodation. Trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation is highly gendered and it is vital that victims feel safe and protected when placed in accommodation.”


The full submission entitled “Contribution to the 4th Progress Report on the Fight against Trafficking in Human Beings in the European Union” is available at the following link:

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Brian Dawson, IHREC Communications Manager,

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Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission 

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an independent public body, appointed by the President and directly accountable to the Oireachtas. The Commission has a statutory remit set out under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act (2014) to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland, and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding in the State.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is Ireland’s national human rights institution and is recognised as such by the United Nations. The Commission is also Ireland’s national equality body for the purpose of a range of EU anti-discrimination measures.