Commission welcomes sentencing guidelines for trafficking offences

Court of Appeal decision recognises seriousness of trafficking and offence of organising prostitution

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (‘the Commission’) today welcomed the clarity provided by the Court of Appeal in providing sentencing guidance for trafficking offences that clearly recognises the seriousness of trafficking and the offence of organising prostitution.

The Court ruled that in the most serious and egregious trafficking cases, the maximum headline sentence should be set in the range of 18-20 years, and that headline sentences cannot be less than 10 years.

In the cases of DPP -v-Alicia Edosa and DPP -v- Edith Enoghaghase which were appeals of the first successful human trafficking convictions in Ireland, the appeals by the respondents were dismissed, and the DPP’s appeal on the basis of undue leniency was upheld.

On the facts of this case, the Court did not find that this case fell into the higher sentencing range, although they said that they ‘could easily imagine cases where such sentences would be fully justifiable’. Once mitigation was taken into account the court imposed sentences of 7 years and 5 months for one of the respondents and 7 years and one month for another. This is an increase of nearly 2 years for each defendant.

The insidious and heinous nature of trafficking is reflected by the considerable sentences available to sentencing judges. The Commission welcomes the much-needed clarity provided today by the Court of Appeal.

The harm and cruelty inflicted by the traffickers and the men who paid for sex with these exploited women cannot be understated. The strength and courage of the survivors must be commended in enduring both the exploitation and the long criminal justice process.

The respondents are only two of the many people who exploited these women. Paying for sexual activity and paying for sexual activity with a trafficked person are also separate criminal offences. We must do all that we can to disrupt the demand that drives trafficking. As such, we keenly await the publication of the Review of Part IV of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017.

Sinead Gibney, Chief Commissioner said,

“The substantial sentences not only reflect the gravity of harm inherent in human trafficking but also act a strong message that traffickers will be brought to justice and held to account for their actions. These cases demonstrate the State’s ability to combat and address human trafficking and to vindicate the rights of victims to seek justice.” 

“The bravery and perseverance of the victims during the lengthy and complex investigation must be commended.”


For further information, please contact:

Sarah Clarkin, IHREC Communications Manager,

01 8592641 / 087 4687760

Follow us on twitter @_IHREC

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.

Background to the case:

The respondents were found guilty in June 2021, in what was the first successful human trafficking convictions in Ireland.

The DPP sought a review of the sentences imposed in each case on the grounds of undue leniency. In a cross-appeal, Edosa sought to challenge both the conviction and the sentence.

The judgement can be viewed on the Courts Service website, when published,

Review of Part IV of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017.

The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 was enacted on 22 February 2017 and commenced on 27 March 2017. The Act has a broad reach across numerous areas of sexual offences. The Act, under section 4, criminalises the purchase of sexual services, increases the penalty for the purchase of sexual activity with a trafficked person and decriminalises the sale of sexual services. Maura Butler was appointed by the Minister in July 2020 as the Independent Expert to conduct the Review of the 2017 legislation.