A public awareness initiative highlighting the crime of human trafficking has been launched by the Department of Justice.

The campaign aims to raise awareness around human trafficking and alert people to signs and indicators.

Information will be made available on social media and public transport on how to report suspicious activities.

This initiative is being supported by a number of other State agencies and non-State organisations.

Minister for Justice and Equality Helen McEntee has said people must educate themselves to recognise the signs of human trafficking.

In June, Ireland was downgraded regarding its handling of trafficking in an annual report published by the US State Department, which monitors the human trade.

For two decades, it has ranked governments on their perceived efforts to acknowledge and combat human trafficking.

Nations are divided into three tiers based on their compliance with standards in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

Ireland fell by one rank two years ago when it was downgraded to a tier two status with Romania and Bosnia.

This 2020 report confirmed Ireland had moved to a "tier two watch list".

The report said the Irish Government continued to have systematic deficiencies in victim identification, referral and assistance.

Commenting on the launch of today's awareness initiative by the Department of Justice and the International Organisation for Migration, the UN Migration Agency's Chief of Mission Lalini Veerassamy said anyone is at risk of trafficking in the world today, including Ireland.

Minister McEntee said: "The terrible reality is that victims of human trafficking may potentially be hidden in plain sight, in any community in Ireland."