Belfast Telegraph

Ministers united in message that partnership is key in fight against human trafficking

Stormont Executive press release - Department of Justice

Justice Ministers David Ford and Alan Shatter TD have spoken of the contribution that non governmental organisations (NGOs) across Ireland are making in halting human trafficking.

To mark EU Anti-Trafficking Day on 18 October, both Ministers were attending a cross border forum on Human Trafficking with representatives from State, Law Enforcement, Non-Governmental and International Organisations representing the island of Ireland, along with delegates from other jurisdictions.

Minister Ford said: “Human trafficking is the vilest of crimes and we need to work together to stamp it out. I am encouraged to see so many NGOs in Northern Ireland working together to raise awareness of human trafficking and what we can do about it. Their input into my Department’s Human Trafficking Engagement Group has been invaluable in helping to take forward a number of key anti-trafficking initiatives, including the production of an educational resource pack, available to teachers across Northern Ireland, which helps young people explore the issues linked to human trafficking. It is important that we use events like this to develop stronger partnerships and to learn from each other, going forward.” 

The Minister added: “Those who perpetrate the heinous crime of trafficking human beings are not confined by borders. Therefore it is also hugely important that we continue to work closely and forge strong links with our partners in the Republic of Ireland. There are already close working relationships between PSNI and An Garda Síochána, and it is important that we build on these links and extend them across civil society, to ensure that we stand united in our efforts to eradicate human trafficking.”

Addressing the audience Minister Alan Shatter TD, added “Trafficking in human beings is an appalling crime, a serious abuse of human rights and an affront to the dignity of the human person. It should never be tolerated. We must use all the tools and resources at our disposal to prevent and combat human trafficking. Events such as this Forum allow us to take stock of what we have achieved to date, and to consider new methods of tackling this issue, particularly in the area of locating and identifying victims and in demand reduction – the major themes of today’s forum. We cannot be complacent with regard to our efforts to identify victims, prosecute those who perpetrate this crime and in seeking to ensure that the victims of this human rights abuse are afforded the supports and services they require. 

“The Anti-Human Trafficking Unit of my Department and An Garda Síochána, in conjunction with their counterparts in Northern Ireland, are continually vigilant for any emerging trends relating to human trafficking and maintain a dialogue on this matter with the relevant State agencies and non-governmental organisations working in this area.” 

Minister Shatter also highlighted the ongoing co-operation between his Department and the Department of Justice in Northern Ireland. He said: “The event today is the latest in a number of joint initiatives, aimed at raising awareness of human trafficking, on the island of Ireland.” 

Anyone with suspicions of human trafficking can report their concerns anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 in Northern Ireland or to An Garda Síochána through Crimestoppers at 1 800 25 00 25 or via a dedicated email

Notes to editors:

1. The forum looked at human trafficking in terms of location of victims and demand reduction.

2. The Organised Crime Task Force (OCTF) Immigration and Human Trafficking subgroup is made up of statutory bodies including Department of Justice, PSNI, An Garda Síochána, the Health Care Board, the Home Office, Department of Employment and Learning, and Gangmasters’ Licensing Authority.

3. The Human Trafficking NGO Engagement Group was set up in December 2012 in order to formalise and improve the engagement between the relevant statutory bodies, and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) on the issue of human trafficking.

4. A comprehensive consultative structure under the direction of the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit in the Department of Justice and Equality comprises representatives from State, Law Enforcement, Non-Governmental and International organisations.

5. The conference is part of a series of events being held to mark EU Anti-Trafficking Day on 18 October. 

6. Representatives from the State, Law Enforcement and Civil Society will attend a conference in Vilnius to mark EU Anti-Trafficking Day on Friday, 18 October 2013. The purpose of this conference will be to discuss the role of the internet in the field of trafficking in human beings.

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