Senator van Turnhout calls on Ireland to immediately transpose the EU Anti-Trafficking Directive into national legislation

Press Statement, 15 April 2013

 ***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***

 

SENATOR VAN TURNHOUT CALLS ON IRELAND TO IMMEDIATELY TRANSPOSE THE EU ANTI-TRAFFICKING DIRECTIVE INTO NATIONAL LEGISLATION

 

I warmly welcome today’s publication of the European Commission’s Eurostat Report Trafficking in human beings.  I note with extreme concern that 62% of all those identified or presumed to be victims of human trafficking in the EU over the 2008-2010 period, were trafficked for sexual exploitation, with countries of trafficking origin identified both inside and outside the EU.

 

According to Department of Justice annual reports of trafficking in human beings in Ireland for 2009, 2010, and 2011, there were 132 detected cases of trafficking for sexual exploitation, of which 32 were children.  Despite this, there has been a negligible number of prosecutions under the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act, 2008 and the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act, 1998.  Furthermore, Ireland has failed to transpose the EU Anti-Trafficking Directive, the deadline for which expired on 6 April.

 

Following a very constructive meeting last week with Myria Vassiliadou, EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator, where we shared our mutual concerns, I call on the Government to immediately transpose the EU Anti-Trafficking Directive into national legislation.  The EU Directive will have a significant impact on the lives of trafficking victims and will prevent others from falling victim to this heinous crime.

 

I will continue my work in the Seanad: advocating to criminalise the purchase of sex in Ireland to curb prostitution and trafficking; seeking to introduce and strengthen regulations around vulnerable work placements, such as Au-Pairing; and focusing on the distinct vulnerability of asylum seekers in Direct Provision to trafficking and exploitation in Ireland.

 

-ENDS-

Notes for the Editor:

European Commission Report: Trafficking in human beings, Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 April 2011 on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/629/JHA, and all related European Commission press releases can be view at http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/malmstrom/news/archives/2013/04/20130415_en.htm

 

For More Information, Please Contact:                                                                

Senator Jillian van Turnhout,                                                                                                                                    Leader of the Independent Group (Taoiseach’s Nominees)                                                              Phone: 01-6183375                                                                                                                                      e-mail:jillian.vanturnhout@oireachtas.ie

 

Order of Business, 17 April 2013

Wednesday, 17th April 2013

I am disappointed the matter I wished to raise on the Adjournment was not taken as it was lodged before some of the others that were accepted.

I welcome the Government’s acceptance of the cross-party Private Members’ Bill, along with Senator Ivana Bacik, to set aside the Statute of Limitations for the survivors of symphysiotomy. I am aware from the debate in the House last May that many Senators advocated this position. It is a horror story which I have followed closely as a member of the victims of symphysiotomy all-party support group. I pay tribute to the survivors, their families and supporters and those who advocated and campaigned tirelessly on their behalf. I pay tribute to Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, convenor of the all-party group, whose determination and commitment to seek justice for the survivors has kept the issue firmly on the Oireachtas agenda. While I do not condone the length of time it has taken to get here, this is how things should be done. It has restored my faith in consensus politics and how we can work together to achieve good. While the agreement by the Government to support the Bill through Second Stage is welcome, I ask the Leader to urge the Government to begin actively engaging with the survivors and their representative groups to address their immediate health and support needs and, in parallel, to put a structure in place that will ensure redress.

I wish to raise the plight of the 32 thalidomide survivors. At an Oireachtas briefing they shared some of their specific support needs. Regrettably, they are being shunted between Departments. I ask the Leader to urge the Government to engage with them and their representative groups at the earliest opportunity.

On Monday, in response to the publication of the European Commission’s report on trafficking in human beings, I called on the Government to transpose immediately the EU anti-trafficking directive into national legislation. This was due to be done by 6 April. The directive has the potential to impact significantly on the lives of trafficked victims and will help prevent others from falling victim to this heinous crime. I welcome the publication yesterday of the criminal law human trafficking Bill to give effect to certain provisions of the EU anti-trafficking directive. I look forward to comparing the Bill against the directive and hope to find all the necessary elements incorporated. Significantly, the Bill defines forced labour in accordance with ILO convention 29. This is something I have called for in the past and I welcome its inclusion. I ask the Leader to commend the Government for initiating the Bill in this House.

I welcome the appointment of the members designate of the new Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission. They are of fine calibre and will bring extensive expertise to their role. I hope a suitable chair can be found at the earliest opportunity.

Order of Business, 6 June 2012

I agree with Senator Bacik’s proposal for a debate on the future of the Seanad in light of the announcement concerning the constitutional convention.

I also send my best wishes to those sitting the junior and leaving certificate examinations. I would not swap places with them but I wish them the very best, having dropped my nephew to his first exam today.

I warmly welcome the announcement by the EU for funding for the missing children hotline on Missing Children’s Day. This House played a strong role on that matter by having an all-party, all-group motion seeking the hotline to be up and running. This funding has now been announced by the EU but the ISPCC, which has been awarded the hotline and the funding, will need additional funding from the Government. I therefore repeat my call of 22 May, asking the Leader to invite the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Deputy Frances Fitzgerald, to the House to discuss her Department’s plans to provide the necessary funding and support for Ireland’s missing children’s hotline, so we can have it operational in the coming months.

We should also discuss with the Minister, Deputy Fitzgerald, how her Department and the Government can support the exceptional work done by the ISPCC through its Childline service. I also ask the Leader to seek from the Minister a date for the publication of the report into child deaths. She should give a commitment to attend the House shortly after it is published so that we can discuss it with her.

I commend the joint policing operation between the Garda Síochána and the PSNI into organised prostitution, brothel keeping and money laundering. On Tuesday last, 29 May, searches were carried out at over 120 houses, apartments and flats on both sides of the Border under Operation Quest, which led to a number of arrests. I particularly welcome the fact that three suspected victims of human trafficking were rescued during the course of these searches. I welcome the Garda Síochána’s recognition of the link between prostitution, organised crime and money laundering, as well as the additional link between prostitution and human trafficking, which this case demonstrates. I commend the gardaí for their approach.

The Minister for Justice and Equality has advised us that he will shortly publish his public consultation document. I am disappointed, however, that the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has banned a radio advertisement campaign by “Turn off the Red Light”, which seeks to highlight abuses in the Irish sex trade. That is very disappointing.

Order of Business, 25 January 2012

25th January 2012

I encourage my colleagues to participate in the Private Members’ debate on the motion proposed by the Independent group on disability support and services. I appeal to Members to support the motion as proposed. This is an important debate and I hope the House will support the very clear action points in the motion. It will be led by my colleague, Senator Mary Ann O’Brien.

I recall the Private Members’ motion by the Independent group on 12 October 2011 on criminalising the purchase of sex in Ireland. We are three months into the six-month period indicated by the Minister for Justice and Equality for public consultation. This matter was raised in the Dáil last week by Deputy Kevin Humphreys and the Minister advised that the consultation process would be ready before the end of January. However, I am concerned by the inclusion of a caveat in the Minister’s reply that the publication of the document before the end of January is subject to resources, having regard to compelling priorities including legislative priorities. I fully appreciate the financial times we are in and I know that the Government needs to prioritise its work. However, the debate we had on 12 October 2011 showed a clear link between prostitution and trafficking, particularly in respect of trafficking children for sexual exploitation. The protection of women and children from sexual exploitation must be a Government priority. I ask the Leader to invite the Minister for Justice and Equality to confirm that the consultation document will be published and that the consultation process will commence without further delay.

I also wish to raise whistleblower legislation. The situation of Louise Bayliss has been raised by the media in recent days. Coincidentally, she met me last Tuesday to discuss lone parents, before she heard the news. She is an advocate who has spoken out and we need to remember the five women she spoke out about, who were being put into a closed unit. How do we know how many other people are in that situation if we do not produce whistleblowing legislation? There should also be independent funding for advocacy organisations. This does not concern new funding but the basis of funding for the organisations working as advocates.

Finally, I wish to raise Children’s Rights Alliance report card launched on Monday. Last week, I called for the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs to come to the House and I suggest to the House that this is an excellent basis for discussion. The Government has failed in the report card in regard to St. Patrick’s institution and the continued detention of children in an adult prison regime. The effects of budget 2012 on lone parents and large families and the implications for child poverty were highlighted. The Government got the best grade any Government has received in four years but that does not mean it is good enough. We need to do more. It is a wide-ranging report which looks at all aspects of a child’s life and would provide an excellent foundation for a debate.

Human Rights in Ireland – Guest Post: Van Turnhout on Criminalising the Purchase of Sex

21st November 2011

 

We are delighted to welcome this guest post from Senator Jillian Van Turnhout on the efforts of the Independent Group in the Seanad to criminalise the purchase of sex.

On 12 October 2012, the Independent Group of Senators tabled a motion in Seanad Éireann to criminalise the purchase of sex in Ireland in order to curb prostitution and trafficking. The impetus for the motion was twofold. First, recognition that demand for prostitution in Ireland is intrinsically linked to increased cases of woman and girls being trafficked into and around Ireland for sexual exploitation. Second, recognition that trafficking for sexual exploitation is a modern form of slavery, an egregious human rights abuse and a violation of international law.

Having given my consideration to a number of arguments against criminalising the purchase of sex in Ireland, I find myself unconvinced by them. One argument contends that criminalising the purchase of sex violates a sex worker’s right to exercise self-determination over their own body. I must respectfully disagree. It is my belief that when we peel away the complex layers of how and why women, and to a lesser extent men and boys, sell their bodies for the sexual gratification of others, it is clear that the path into prostitution did not start with the simple exercise of their right to self-determination over their body. Indeed, research indicates that a significant number of women end up in prostitution as a result of poverty, debt, homelessness, addiction, or having been groomed by a partner, family member or friend. Many will have experienced serious abuse or neglect in childhood or early adulthood.

I believe that the inherent coercion, whether the result of violence or economic hardship, and the exploitative nature of the sex industry, which in Ireland alone is estimated to be worth €250 million each year, renders free and informed consent to prostitution all but impossible. Furthermore, for those who argue in defence of prostitution on the basis of consent, I would ask these people to be mindful that the age identified internationally for entry into prostitution is 14, an age at which consent cannot be given.

The Turn Off the Red Light Campaign (TORL) to end prostitution and sex trafficking in Ireland has done tremendous work in this area. Most TORL members are civil society groups and NGOs that have direct experience of the devastating effects prostitution can have on women, children and men involved in its practice. These devastating effects are physical, such as sexually transmitted infections, injuries sustained as the result of beatings and rapes, gynaecological difficulties owing to multiple terminations, and many other health complications relating to prostitution. There are also mental and emotional injuries, deeply embedded in the psyche of sex workers and victims of trafficking, which they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. As devastating as these effects are for adults, the impact is almost unimaginable for children and child victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation. I am particularly concerned about the vulnerability of homeless and separated children in Ireland to prostitution and trafficking.

Focus Ireland has estimated that as many as 1,500 children are homeless in Ireland each year. 800 of them are unaccompanied, and a quarter of these are under the age of 12. Inadequate resourcing in this area, coupled with an insufficient number of places for children in safe, sheltered accommodation, is said to be forcing some children to resort to prostitution to survive. An increase in substance abuse amongst homeless youths, particularly males, has also seen increased recourse to prostitution. There is evidence to suggest that boys as young as 13 are involved in prostitution in Dublin City. Cognisant of the link between youth homelessness and child prostitution, and in addition to the introduction of the legislation called for in our Seanad motion, I believe that the Government needs to breathe life into its pledge to address the issue of existing homelessness, with a specific focus on youth homelessness, by reviewing and updating the existing Homeless Strategy.

Separated children or unaccompanied minors are defined as being under 18 years of age, separated from both of their parents or their legal/customary primary caregiver, and outside their country of origin. Separated children are an extremely vulnerable group owing to their unaccompanied status. Many have experienced war and violence, and some have been trafficked into Ireland for sexual exploitation. There have been a number of improvements in the situation for separated children in Ireland under the Ryan Report Implementation Plan, particularly in relation to accommodation arrangements. Measures are also being taken to tackle false family reunifications through the use of DNA identification.

Nevertheless, instances of children going missing from care are of deep and ongoing concern. Minister of State for Disability, Equality and Mental Health, Kathleen Lynch TD informed the Seanad debate that there are 16 cases of children missing in Ireland still outstanding in 2010 alone, and 11 of those are unaccompanied minors. There is strong anecdotal evidence that a number of these children could have been trafficked into prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation. In September 2011, the Children’s Rights Alliance submitted to the Department of Justice and Equality’s Anti-Human Trafficking Unit collated case studies of suspected and confirmed child victims of trafficking in Ireland. The case studies paint a dreadful picture of exploitation and include:

A 15 year old Somali rescued from a brothel in 2006 after being trafficked into Ireland; a 16 year old Nigerian girl who arrived to Ireland as a separated child in 2009 and was enticed out of HSE residential care by a man who later got her involved in prostitution; and a 16 year old girl from Burundi, held captive in a house in Co. Louth and abused. She had been taken from her village in Africa at the age of 12 and introduced into sex slavery in different countries before being trafficked to Ireland for more sexual exploitation. I have also heard dreadful accounts by an NGO, which were subsequently documented, of Eastern European girls as young as 14 being trafficked to Ireland, brutally and systematically raped over a number of days to “break them in,” before being shipped off to various brothels around the country.

These are just a few examples, but I fear they represent just the tip of the iceberg. This is an intolerable situation. The sex industry in Ireland is extremely lucrative. Children continue to be victims of prostitution and trafficking because it is good business for organised criminals and traffickers.

After much research into the issue, I firmly believe that legislation is needed. I was very disappointed that our motion did not succeed on 12 October. Instead, the Government proposed a six-month timeframe in which to hold a considered public debate before the issue is revisited. I look forward to this renewed debate. As Leader of the Independent Group of Senators, I have extended a number of invitations to the Turn Off the Blue Light Campaign, a sex worker led association campaigning against calls to criminalise the purchase of sex in Ireland, to come and discuss their concerns with the authors of the motion. They have indicated that they will do so after completion of a survey they are currently undertaking with sex workers.

Readers may be interested in following the debate as it unfolded in the Seanad;

http://www.kildarestreet.com/sendebates/?id=2011-10-12.192.0

 

Article link: http://www.humanrights.ie/index.php/2011/11/21/guest-post-van-turnhout-on-criminalising-the-purchase-of-sex/

Missing Children Hotline

12th October 2011

I thank the Minister for coming before the House and accepting the motion. I also thank her for the detailed statement. I wanted to hear that the hotline would go into operation without delay but I accept the Minister’s integrity and the proposals laid before us.

I welcome that and I will obviously monitor it.

As the Minister said, this dates back to a decision of the European Commission in February 2007 requiring member states to reserve a six digit number range starting with 116 for the harmonisation of access to services of social value in the European Union. This decision was based on reason and pragmatism, which I fully commend.
This line is critical for the parent of a missing child and for a child who is scared and vulnerable having run away from home or for a person who finds himself or herself outside his or her home country and is in dire need of help having been smuggled or trafficked into Ireland. It is also critical for someone who has been abducted by perhaps one of their own parents to know there is a number he or she can call day or night to find assistance, support and guidance.

This was the rationale behind the European 116000 missing children hotline. It was part the EU strategy on the rights of the child, which recognises that every missing child is, as the Minister said, a tragedy and that member states have not only a legal obligation but a moral one to implement whatever measures are necessary to prevent such tragedies.

The service is currently operating in 16 EU member states. A parent, guardian, professional, concerned member of the public or child who lives in Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungry, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and the United Kingdom can call this missing children hotline on a 24-hour basis.

The value of the missing children hotline, in particular in the context of increasing cases of cross-border child disappearances, is exemplified by a recent cross-border parental abduction case. In Belgium, a father took his daughters aged seven, ten and 14 and hid them for nine and a half months in very poor and dangerous conditions. In September 2008, following a request from the Belgian and Portuguese missing children hotlines, the evening news on Portuguese television opened with an appeal for information about these missing children and concluded by showing the 116000 missing children hotline number on screen. Minutes after the broadcast, the case was resolved. That is the power of this line. This shows the real and urgent need to establish a systematic exchange of information, standardised operational procedures and increased cross-border co-operation to resolve cross-border cases of missing children in the EU.

It is a sad indictment of the priority afforded to the safety and well-being of children in the EU that there are still 11 member states in which the missing children hotline is still not operational. European Commission Vice President and Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, Viviane Reding, recently commentated that:

It is hard to come to terms with the fact that measures that could help are not yet fully operational across the Union. It would be a double tragedy to imagine a missing child trying to call the 116000 hotline only to hear an answering machine playing a prerecorded message announcing that the service will be operational in 2012.
Unfortunately, this has been the case in Ireland.

When preparing for today’s debate, I decided to dial 116000 and I got the following message:

We are sorry but we cannot connect your call because the number you have dialled is not in service. Please check the number you have dialled and try again.

What about those children from the 16 member states who are aware of this line? We have a border with the United Kingdom but what happens if children from the United Kingdom are here and they telephone that number and get that message?

It was against that backdrop and following the interventions of a number of Senators, notably, Senators Daly and Quinn, that I worked over the summer to co-ordinate and seek the approval of my fellow Senators for their support for this motion. As Senator Leyden said, the Seanad is about us working together and not just raising issues but seeing how we can make a difference and put things in place.

The Minister mentioned the situation of runaways and children in the care of the State. This line has been proved in other EU member states to be a safe contact point for these missing children to be able to telephone. They do not wish to telephone the Garda or the HSE. By using this line, perhaps we could save resources for the Garda and the HSE and know a child is safe and try to reconcile the difficulties.

The Minister said that five missing children was too many but I was disappointed when she updated us on the situation in regard to unaccompanied minors. She informed us that 11 of those children from 2010 are still missing. For me a child is a child and his or her status is of secondary importance. For me, there are 16 children from 2010 still missing and cases are still open. That is the accurate figure.

The Minister outlined the importance of the statutory agencies working together. They are doing some invaluable work but the line for me is about children and parents having easy access to those services and to give them a voice.

The Minister mentioned that ComReg has advertised the line four times but there have been no applications. I should note that a non-governmental organisation has submitted two funding proposals over the past few years to Government seeking funding in order to be able to apply for the line.

I very much welcome the Minister’s announcement that the Cabinet gave her memorandum time, that it will be put into operation and that the Departments of Justice and Equality and Children and Youth Affairs, the Garda and ComReg will work together on a project team. I urge her to follow the lead of 13 of the 16 member states in which the service is operational by assigning the number to a member of Missing Children Europe because it has built up the links and the contact points.

I noted my colleague, Senator Henry, spoke about cost-effectiveness but we also need to ensure there are minimum quality standards and a practical guide for hotline providers to ensure the hotlines operating throughout Europe are run professionally, efficiently and effectively and meet the European standards for best practice for service requirements.

The Seanad will not go away. People may talk about its abolition but we will monitor this to ensure it is implemented in full. We will work with the Minister to do what we can. We want to see that Ireland moves from being good on paper when it comes to the rights of the child to being good in operation and implementation and that we uphold those rights.

Human Trafficking and Prostitution – Motion

12th October 2011

I welcome the Minister of State. The impetus for this motion has been the tremendous work of the Turn Off the Red Light campaign to end prostitution and combat sex trafficking in Ireland. I commend the campaign on highlighting the intrinsic link between the demand for prostitution and the trafficking of women and girls to meet this demand. The majority of members of Turn Off the Red Light are civil society groups and NGOs that have direct experience of the devastating effects of prostitution on women, children and men throughout Ireland. These devastating effects are physical, such as sexually transmitted infections, injuries sustained as a result of beatings and rapes, gynaecological problems owing to multiple terminations of pregnancy and many other health conditions relating to prostitution. There are also mental and emotional injuries deeply embedded in the psyche of sex workers and victims of trafficking which are likely to be carried throughout their lives.

Senators Zappone and Mac Conghail have excellently outlined the views of our group, which I fully support. Therefore, in my intervention I will focus on the situation for children. As devastating as these effects are on adults, the impact is almost unimaginable for children and child victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation. I have researched with interest some of the arguments against criminalising the purchase of sex in Ireland and I find myself wholly unconvinced by them. One argument contends that criminalising the purchase of sex in an effort to curb prostitution violates a sex worker’s right to exercise self-determination over her own body. I must respectfully disagree. It is my belief that when the complex layers of how and why women and men find themselves selling their bodies for sexual gratification of others are peeled away, their paths into prostitution did not start with the simple exercise of their right to self-determination of their bodies. For those who argue that prostitution is an issue of consent, I would ask these people to be mindful that the age identified internationally for entry into prostitution is 14, an age at which consent cannot be given.

I would also like to highlight the situation for young homeless people. Focus Ireland estimates that there are as many as 1,500 young people under the age of 18 who are homeless each year in Ireland, 18% of whom are unaccompanied and one quarter of whom are under 12. There is inadequate resourcing in this area and there are an insufficient number of places for children in safe, sheltered accommodation. Some are said to be forced into prostitution. An increase in substance abuse among homeless youths, especially males, has also seen an increased recourse to prostitution and there is evidence to suggest that boys as young as 13 are involved in prostitution in Dublin city.

Separated children or unaccompanied minors are under 18 years of age, outside their country of origin and separated from both of their parents or their previous legal customary primary care giver. Separated children are an extremely vulnerable group owing to their status, the fact they may have experienced war and violence, and the danger that they have been trafficked into Ireland for sexual exploitation. There have been improvements in the situation for separated children in Ireland under the Ryan report implementation plan, and measures have been taken, such as DNA identification, to tackle false family reunifications.

However, the instances of children going missing from care are of deep concern. This morning in this very Chamber, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs told us that there are 16 cases of children missing in Ireland still outstanding in 2010 alone, and 11 of those are unaccompanied minors. There is strong anecdotal evidence that a number of these children could have been trafficked into prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation. In September 2011, the Children’s Rights Alliance submitted to the Department of Justice and Equality’s anti-human trafficking unit collated case studies of suspected and confirmed child victims of trafficking in Ireland.

I will now briefly outline these cases which paint a picture of dreadful exploitation. They include the following: a 15-year-old Somali rescued from a brothel in 2006 having been trafficked into Ireland; a 16-year-old Nigerian girl who arrived to Ireland as a separated child in 2009 and was enticed out of HSE residential care by a man who later got her involved in prostitution; and a 16-year-old girl from Burundi, held captive in a house in County Louth and abused. She was taken from her village in Africa at the age of 12 and introduced into sex slavery in different countries before being trafficked to Ireland for more sexual exploitation.
I have also heard dreadful accounts by an NGO, which were subsequently documented, of eastern European girls as young as 14 being trafficked to Ireland, brutally and systematically raped over a number of days to “break them in” and then shipped off to various brothels around Ireland. This intolerable situation is my motivation for fully supporting the motion proposed by the Independent Group.

As Senator Zappone has already mentioned, the sex industry in Ireland is extremely lucrative. Children continue to be victims of prostitution and trafficking because it is good business for organised criminals and traffickers. After much research into this issue I firmly believe that legislation is needed. I understand that the Minister says we need a wider public debate. I would like to say I am reassured by what I have heard both from the Minister and the Government side, but I am not. We have heard a lot of nice words and good sentiments but I would like to have seen much more detail in what is being put before us. I note the six-month timeframe that is given to us and our group must still decide whether we will move this motion to a vote. We will certainly not be going away from this issue, however, because every day that passes there is a possibility of women and children being forced further into sexual exploitation in Ireland. We have to take action. We may have to allow the Minister of State some time, but it is a very short time because this is about human beings and people’s lives.

Senators call for ban on purchase of sex to curb prostitution and trafficking

***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday 12th of October***

SENATORS CALL FOR BAN ON PURCHASE OF SEX TO CURB PROSTITUTION AND TRAFFICKING

The Independent Senators (Taoiseach’s Nominees) will put a motion before the Seanad today proposing the Government introduce legislation criminalising the purchase of sex in order to curb prostitution and trafficking for sexual exploitation.

The Independents describe prostitution in Ireland as a sophisticated and lucrative industry with more than 1000 women made available for paid sex on a daily basis. The Criminal Assets Bureau has valued the Irish sex industry at €250 million a year. The Independents believe that current laws on prostitution are ambiguous and insufficient. The motion notes evidence from Sweden and Norway which shows that criminal sanction for the purchase of sex are a proven deterrent to prostitution and consequently to trafficking and also to organised crime. Swedish police have stated that the Swedish ban on the purchase of sex acts as a barrier to human trafficking.

A 2009 report, commissioned by the Immigrant Council of Ireland, found that prostitution and trafficking are inextricably linked. 91 women and 11 children were trafficked into Ireland in 2007/2008 for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

Senator Katherine Zappone stated, “We recognise that the trafficking of women and girls for sexual exploitation is a modern form of slavery and a form of human rights abuse. International and Irish research documents time and again acknowledge characteristics of slavery, as it applies to sex trafficking and prostitution.”

Senator Jillian Van Turnhout added, “There is a reluctance to acknowledge that this very modern slave trade is happening here in Ireland. The evidence from child victims cannot be ignored any longer. Child trafficking is a problem at the heart of our communities, not just in our cities but in our towns and villages. It is imperative that we take all the steps necessary to tackle the trafficking of children in Ireland for sexual exploitation.”

The motion will be put before the Seanad at 5pm today. Coalition members from the Turn off the Red Light Campaign will be present in the visitor’s gallery for the debate.
ENDS

Note to Editor:
Independent Senators (Taoiseach’s Nominees) are: Jillian Van Turnhout, Katherine Zappone, Fiach MacConghail, Eamonn Coghlan, Martin McAleese, Mary-Ann O’Brien and Marie-Louise O’Donnell.

Civil Law – Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2011 – Second Stage

30th June 2011

I thank the Minister for his comprehensive overview. I take this opportunity to welcome the citizenship ceremony held last week in Dublin Castle. This was a very important ceremony and several people noted it as a very welcome initiative by the Minister.

When reading the Bill last weekend I wondered whether the title should be changed to the lost and found Bill because it was certainly an eclectic collection of albeit very important measures. It has certainly tested my mettle in my breadth of knowledge. I cannot claim to have knowledge in all the areas covered so I will limit my comments to areas on which I wish to comment or to measures I wish to note.

I welcome the Minister’s proposals on civil legal aid in section 26 of the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995 which will allow the Legal Aid Board to provide legal advice on criminal matters to victims or alleged victims of trafficking. This is a very positive measure as this is an important extension of powers so that any alleged victim of human trafficking will be able to get legal advice. However, I note that this does not appear to extend to representation for the victims in court proceedings nor will it protect the victims of the sex trade who do not come within the narrow definition of trafficking. I do not know if anything can be done at this stage with regard to this issue. I am concerned that while this is a very welcome measure to allow the Legal Aid Board to give legal advice to victims or alleged victims of human trafficking, it does not include legal representation.

Part 3 refers to proposals on good Samaritans. I read this section with particular interest because I am a long-standing volunteer with the Irish Girl Guides and I am bringing 22 girls on a trip this weekend to a 500-strong camp. If I am a little tired on Tuesday I will ask my colleagues to bear with me.

I have paid particular attention to this proposal which I welcome. It is important to discuss and encourage good Samaritans and volunteerism. This section will be a welcome addition to any discussion on community life. I read the Law Reform Commission report on civil liability of good Samaritans and volunteers and I note that many of the recommendations in that report are encompassed here. The proposal to deal with the civil liability of good Samaritans and volunteers is important. The Minister also accommodates the range of individuals who may constitute a Good Samaritan or a volunteer or the organisations or types of intervention. While it may be difficult to define, any measure to support people to take the initiative, is important.

I am involved in several voluntary organisations and I have noted an undue expectation of a duty of care. This may arise where, as a result of an accident, a case is brought against an individual or an organisation by a concerned parent. The problem is that the insurance companies will urge organisations to settle before it goes to court, thereby not allowing the courts to intervene as is proposed in this Bill. This results in an increase in insurance costs for the voluntary organisations. I can provide examples of where this has happened.

Part 5 deals with intoxicating liquor and I particularly welcome these provisions and the Minister’s words on this issue. I have been a rapporteur on two significant EU reports on alcohol-related harm. This experience has changed my opinion because I would have been slightly more moderate in my view on the issue of alcohol-related harm but the evidence speaks for itself. As the Minister observed, the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008, which came into force in August 2008, introduces firmer penalties for those who sell alcohol to under-18s and it contains other welcome measures. However, enforcement has been limited and weak. I know this Bill cannot change this but I wish to bring this to the attention of the Minister while he is in the House.

Stricter government regulation is required to govern alcohol advertising and marketing. Alcohol advertising and marketing shapes children’s attitudes to alcohol from an early age and it plays a significant role in their decision to drink and how to drink. A review of longitudinal studies was carried out in 2009. This showed that the volume of alcohol advertisement in media seen by teenagers increases the likelihood that they will start to drink, the amount they drink and the amount they drink on any one occasion.

The Minister referred to the voluntary code. In 2003, draft legislation was prepared which was aimed at significantly reducing children’s exposure to alcohol advertising and marketing. Had this legislation been enacted it would have restricted the placement of alcohol advertisements, limited their content and banned the drinks industry sponsorship of youth leisure activities. This draft legislation went to Cabinet and had been approved. There then followed a change of Ministers and subsequently a voluntary code was introduced in place of the draft legislation. I note that this voluntary code mirrors exactly what was produced by the industry, including the grammatical errors. Therefore, the Minister’s comments this morning are all the more pertinent. I welcome the proposals in this Bill but I stress that any consultation cannot just be with the industry. This is an issue that affects society and there needs to be wider consultation. It is clear that a voluntary code alone is insufficient to address the problems and this view is supported by the World Health Organisation which has stated that self-regulation seems to work only to the extent that there is a current and credible threat of regulation by government. I endorse this view.

Part 7 proposes amendment of the Bankruptcy Act 1988. There has been much public debate in recent months with regard to bankruptcy and I welcome the proposals in the Bill. However, I also welcome the proposal by Senator O’Donovan to reduce the term to three years.

Part 8 proposes the amendment of the Family Law (Maintenance of Spouses and Children) Act 1976 and this is to be welcomed. It is an area in which the Minister has a wide experience and he is aware of its direct impact. These new measures will provide for a clear distinction between those who cannot pay maintenance and those who actively choose not to pay it.

Part 13 proposes the amendment of the Registration of Title Act 1964. My understanding is that the proposed section 31 which inserts a new section 49A into the 1964 Act, now provides that an individual can make application to register a right of way as a burden which will first require the consent of the landowner and second, this will only apply in circumstances where the land is registered land. The benefit of this measure is that court applications will be avoided where all parties consent and that registration and the ownership of the lands is registered with the Land Registry. It would appear that this section will not provide assistance to those individuals who are seeking to claim an easement over unregistered lands but, hopefully, this will be eased over time, as compulsory registration with the Land Registry is extended across the country.

My understanding is that section 28 proposes will extend the current deadline of December 2012. Is that correct?
I welcome Part 15 of the Bill which deals with miscellaneous measures. In particular I welcome the amendment of the Domestic Violence Act 1996. This is a critical amendment which is long overdue. I am pleased the Minister has taken this opportunity to amend the Act. Women who have a child with an abuser, for example, but who have never lived together or married, are currently a very vulnerable group. Where there is a child in common, there is often continued contact between the parents after the relationship ends and this contact gives further opportunity to abuse. The Minister’s proposal in this section is very important and will have a direct effect.
Women’s Aid has drawn my attention to a lacuna in the current provisions whereby dating partners who are not cohabiting and women being stalked and abused by ex-partners are totally unprotected under the Domestic Violence Act 1996 and will remain so. Protection from domestic violence should not be contingent on current or previous cohabitation and, therefore, safety orders should be available to all parties who are or have been in intimate relationships, as set out in the United Nations guidelines on domestic violence legislation. I hope there will be further progress in this area, and I welcome the steps taken in this regard in the Bill.

I thank the Minister for introducing the legislation to the Seanad. I look forward to our future co-operation.

The Lancet

In July 2021, Jillian co-authored an article in the world-renowned medical journal “The Lancet”