Human Trafficking is a crime and a human rights violation. For a situation to be one of trafficking three distinct elements (act, means, purpose) must be fulfilled:

  • The ACT of recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons must be done by
  • A MEANS such as the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or the giving or receiving of payments and it must be for the purpose of
  • EXPLOITATION i.e. sexual exploitation, labour exploitation or organ removal.

A child cannot consent to being trafficked.

There is no requirement that a person must have crossed a border for trafficking to have taken place – it can and does take place within national borders.

Where does it happen?

Trafficking is happening worldwide and it exists in Ireland also. People can be trafficked into different types of work including

  • Restaurant and hotel work
  • Domestic work
  • Construction
  • Agriculture
  • Entertainment
  • Prostitution
  • Other forms of commercial sexual exploitation.

Why does it happen?

Trafficking in human beings is a high profit–low risk crime based upon the principles of supply and demand. Criminal networks or individuals take advantage of a series of what are known as ‘Push and Pull’ factors, which explain why vulnerable individuals who lack opportunities and seek better living conditions in their own or a foreign country, end up being part of a human trafficking chain. This, in combination with the demand for cheap labour and sexual services, fuels human trafficking.

Push Factors:

  • Poverty
  • Lack of opportunities or alternatives such as little or no education, unemployment or low wage
  • Employment
  • Gender based discrimination including domestic violence
  • All forms of discrimination and marginalization
  • Life with dysfunctional families
  • Economic imbalance between impoverished and wealthy countries/areas
  • Impact of political instability and corruption, conflict or transition of countries, especially war.

Pull Factors:

  • Expectation of employment and (higher) financial reward
  • Improved social position and treatment
  • Access to material benefits associated with “the West”
  • Demand for cheap labour, provision of sexual services, organs and tissues.

Is people smuggling the same as human trafficking?

No. While people smuggling and human trafficking are linked there are fundamental differences between the two.

  • People smuggling involves migrants being facilitated with entry into a State through illegal means whereas trafficking must have the threat of or use of force, coercion or deception against a victim.
  • People smuggling facilitates an individual’s illegal entry into the State whereas victims of trafficking can enter into the State both legally and illegally.
  • People smuggling must take place across international borders but there is no requirement that a person must have crossed a border for trafficking to take place – it can and does take place within national borders.
  • People smuggling, while often undertaken in dangerous or degrading conditions, involves migrants who have consented to the smuggling. Trafficking victims, have either never consented or, if they initially consented, that consent has been rendered meaningless by the coercive, deceptive or abusive actions of the traffickers.
  • People smuggling ends with the arrival of the migrants at their destination; unlike trafficking it does not involve the ongoing exploitation of victims.

People smuggling can lead to trafficking if, for example, the circumstances of the smuggled persons change during the journey or on arrival in the State leading to them becoming victims of violence and exploitation.