Concern over human trafficking prosecution ratesThursday 26 September 2013 18.45
Ireland may be underestimating the number of people who are being illegally trafficked into the country, according to the first review of the State's compliance with an anti-trafficking convention.
The review was conducted by an expert committee from the Council of Europe, a 47-member institution that promotes human rights.
It expressed concern at the "very low" number of prosecutions that have been taken against traffickers.
Between 2009 and 2011, more than 200 possible victims of human trafficking were identified in Ireland.
Most were women and girls illegally brought into the country for sexual exploitation.
While Irish authorities do receive substantial praise in the review for introducing anti-trafficking legislation and setting-up an action plan, the report also contains criticism.
The committee concluded that gaps in Irish procedures to identify trafficking victims mean official figures may underestimate the true scale of the problem.
It recommended support groups should be involved in the process.
The committee also argued that Ireland should review its policy of housing suspected victims of trafficking in accommodation centres for asylum seekers.
In an initial response, the Government said it would study the council's recommendations.
However, it argued that as many victims of trafficking were already in the asylum application system, it made sense to keep them in asylum centres.