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Ó Snodaigh identifies gap in Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Bill 2007

25 October, 2007

Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh has said Sinn Féin has identified a gap in the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Bill 2007. Speaking in the Dáil today Deputy Ó Snodaigh welcomed the publishing of the Bill but said while it makes it an offence to traffic children or adults for the purposes of labour exploitation, sexual exploitation organ theft, there are however, in the case of children, other motives for trafficking which the Bill does not cover.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "We welcome the publication of this Bill. Human trafficking is a reality in Ireland and it is important that we have a fitting criminal offence under which to prosecute the scumbags responsible.

"As defined in the Bill the offences will cover trafficking in children and adults for the purposes of labour exploitation, sexual exploitation and organ theft. I trust it is the intention of the government to comprehensively criminalise human trafficking for the purposes of exploitation but I am worried that in the case of children particularly the Bill will leave certain gaps. A child may be trafficked for exploitation in a manner other than the three mentioned. For example, they may be trafficked for adoption, for welfare benefits or even for ritualistic sacrifice.

"In 1998, 7 year-old Victoria Climbié was trafficked from the Ivory Coast to Europe by her aunt for the purpose of benefit fraud. She promised Victoria's parents that she would give their little girl a better life and educational opportunities. In February 2000 Victoria died in a hospital in England having suffered months and months of the most horrific neglect, physical abuse and degrading treatment. She was just eight years and three months old when she died in what was to become one of the worst cases of physical child abuse and exploitation ever documented. Victoria's aunt and her partner received life sentences for her murder.

"We would hope that cases as horrific and extreme as that of Victoria Climbié are few in number. However, there may well be higher numbers of children trafficked to be exploited for benefit claims whose best interests and general welfare are of little or no concern to those arranging transport. Rather, the primary goal of such traffickers is financial.

"And I would also recall 5 year old 'Adam' whose torso was found in the River Thames in 2004. He was trafficked from Nigeria for the purpose of a ritual killing.

"We must ensure that the law includes water-tight provisions for criminal prosecutions against these types of traffickers also. We believe that a simple amendment expanding the trafficking offences to cover exploitation for financial gain, ritualistic killings and abuse and adoption would add greatly to this Bill and to the potential for successful prosecutions to be taken against all human traffickers." ENDS

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