07 October 2014

Minister Fitzgerald meets with EU Anti-Trafficking Chief

  
· Innovative measures needed to ‘follow the money’ in international trafficking
· Minister says steps must be taken to reduce demand for services of victims

Local TD Frances Fitzgerald, Minister for Justice and Equality, met in Dublin
this morning with Dr Myria Vassiliadou, the EU Anti-Trafficking
Coordinator.


Speaking after the meeting Minister Fitzgerald said: “It is clear that we
must do more to tackle this most evil crime. We must continue to innovate
in the measures we take to track down traffickers and disrupt their
activities. Our capacity to work at both a national and international level
on targeted intelligence led operations and to ‘follow the money’ was
discussed with Dr Vassiliadou.”

The Minister went on to state: “Continued targeting of criminals at the
higher end of the trafficking chain is a challenge we must work on with our
international partners. Victims of trafficking are most often extremely
vulnerable persons; investigations that focus on gathering evidence in
relation to issues such as finances reduces the burden on victims as the
only source of evidence against traffickers."

 “As well as focusing on bringing to justice those who engage in this most
heinous crime, we must also take steps to reduce the demand for the
services of victims of trafficking. If the demand for the services of
victims can be reduced, and hopefully eliminated, the business model of
trafficking can be significantly undermined.”

Speaking after the meeting Dr Vassiliadou said: “I was delighted to meet
this morning with the Minister to discuss this most important issue. It was
clear to me that the Minister has shown a close personal interest in this
issue and that she shares our passion to fight against traffickers and
protect trafficking victims. Tackling the demand for the services of
trafficking victims is key to our fight against this crime and I was
pleased to hear the Minister place such emphasis on this.”

The Minister’s meeting with Dr Vassiliadou is among a number of events she
is participating in to highlight the issue of human trafficking,
surrounding EU Anti-Trafficking Day which falls on Saturday 18 October:

   · Last week in Washington, the Minister met with Ambassador Luis
      CdeBaca the Senior Advisor to the US Secretary of State who directs
      the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in
      Persons.
   · This Friday (10 October) a banner will be erected on Liberty Hall to
      mark EU Anti-Trafficking Day
   · Also to mark EU Anti Trafficking Day, next Monday (13 October) the
      Minister will be giving the opening address to a Conference for
      Senior Garda Officers in the Garda College, Templemore.  The purpose
      of the conference is to bring together senior management of An Garda
      Síochána with international experts to discuss best practice in
      combating this crime and protecting its victims.
   · On the 17 October the Minister will be giving a keynote speech at a
      conference in relation to Human Trafficking organised by the
      Immigrant Council of Ireland in the Mansion House.
   · The Minister has also met in recent weeks with leading civil society
      groups, such as Ruhama and the Immigrant Council of Ireland, to hear
      their views in relation to human trafficking.

A ‘Second National Action Plan to Prevent and Combat Trafficking of
Persons’ setting out the Government’s approach to the issue of Human
Trafficking is currently being drafted and is expected to be issued for
public consultation in the near future. This Plan will draw on the
international evaluation of Ireland’s efforts in this regard, as well as
being informed by the views of national civil society actors active in this
field.

The Minister said: “My meeting with Dr Vassiliadou is one of a series of
opportunities I am taking to meet with international and national experts
before I finalise the new National Action Plan. I am anxious to hear the
views of all stakeholders, so that we can assure ourselves that our new
Plan meets the challenges we face.”

Anyone with suspicions of human trafficking can report their concerns
anonymously to An Garda Síochána through Crimestoppers at 1 800 25 00 25 or
via a dedicated email blueblindfold@garda.ie.