2022 Assembly


Exploring the extent of Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking between Ireland and the United Kingdom; through the lens of Organised Crime


On December 8th SAR Consultancy in Ireland hosted a very informative online seminar as part of the  Irish Security Series at which the subject was modern slavery and human trafficking within Ireland  and the UK.

The event was chaired by Dr James Windle – Director of Criminology – UCC  Department of Sociology and Criminology. Four experts in the field were invited to speak  and very eloquently shared from their perspectives of law enforcement, academia and global  leadership about the current issues and challenges in the fight against this very serious  crime.  

The panel included : 

  • Dr Carole Murphy – Acting Director, Bakhita Centre for Research on Slavery, Exploitation and Abuse (BCRSEA) – St. Marys University, UK
  • Dr Cliodhna Murphy – Associate Professor – Maynooth University
  • Assistant Commissioner Anne Marie Cagney, An Garda Síochána
  • Kevin Hyland OBE, former United Kingdom’s Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner,

Throughout the seminar the audience heard about the crimes recorded, cases brought to trial and  victims who have been helped, as well as research initiatives that are currently underway,  specifically looking at the care for British nationals in the UK within the National Referral Mechanism  and pathways to support.  

As neighbours, the UK and island of Ireland share many of the same concerns around the  exploitation of men, women and children in forced labour situations, such as the fishing industry in  Ireland, car washes, the cleaning and care sectors and other areas, as well as forced criminality  through drug cultivation, distribution and dealing. Sexual exploitation is also a reality both sides of  the Irish Sea. In the UK the prevalence of ‘county lines’ continues to be a huge concern to police,  local authorities and civil society.  

In Ireland the Garda currently has over 100 suspects and crimes being investigated. Assistant  Commissioner Cagney stated that “trafficking into the Republic was being driven by an “increased  demand for cheap labour and sexual services”. Irish “society needs to understand that trafficking in  human beings generates profits”. The darknet and internet strengthened the capability of crimes  gangs involved in trafficking. It also offered them anonymity which was “the perfect ground for  human traffickers” as it allowed them to operate “in the shadows”.  

Kevin Hyland OBE shared about a case in which a woman who was trafficked into the Republic was  then caught with 1 million Euro worth of drugs and initially held in custody. “The organised criminals  behind [these crimes] – the ones who rented the premises, the ones who organised the €1 million  worth of drugs – these are not Vietnamese nationals. Some of them, it’s believed, are foreign  nationals and most of them are believed to be Irish nationals.” 


Trafficking in Persons Report 2021


‘’This year’s Trafficking in Persons Report sends a strong message to the world that global crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and enduring discriminatory policies and practices, have a disproportionate effect on individuals already oppressed by other injustices. These challenges further compound existing vulnerabilities to exploitation, including human trafficking. We must break this inhumane cycle of discrimination and injustices if we hope to one day eliminate human trafficking.’’ Secretary of State, Antony Blinken.

Last year marked twenty years of the US State Department’s publication of the annual Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP). Since then, the world has been engulfed in a pandemic, which destabilized healthcare and economies and continues to decimate the aged and vulnerable in all communities. Sadly, in spite of such hardships, the TIP report for 2021 documents the continuing increase in human trafficking and exploitation as the traffickers relentlessly pursue their ‘’trade,’’ taking full advantage of an evolving crisis and the diversion of resources in attempts to respond to the pandemic.

Yet despite the pandemic being unprecedented in our lifetimes, the TIP 2021 report also documents the flexibility, creativity, tenacity and dedication of countless thousands globally who found ways to ensure the continued work of prevention, protection and prosecution.
Statistically, the Report downgrades Cyprus, Israel, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal and Switzerland have been downgraded from the top Tier 1 category to Tier 2, where Saudia Arabia remains for its 2nd year.
Belarus, Burundi, Lesotho and Papua New Guinea have been moved from Tier 3 up to the Tier 2 Watch List, where Ireland remains for a 2nd consecutive year.

Malaysia is downgraded to Tier 3, after a string of complaints by rights groups and U.S. authorities over the alleged exploitation of migrant workers in plantations and factories. It joins Afghanistan, Algeria, Burma, China, Comoros, Cuba, Eritrea, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, North Korea, Nicaragua, Russia, South Sudan, Syria, Turkmenistan and Venezuela, each on Tier 3.
On a positive note, the Report celebrates the efforts of anti-trafficking professionals who continued to serve and identify victims as well as prosecute traffickers amidst the pandemic’s devastating effects on the world’s most vulnerable populations.

This year’s report honours eight 2021 TIP Report Heroes, individuals from around the world whose tireless efforts have made a lasting impact on the fight against human trafficking. It is a tremendous uplift to see RENATE President, Imelda Poole, IBVM, recognised with seven other inspirational leaders, Ms. Josiana Lina Bemaka-Soui, Central African Republic; Ms. Chantal Sagbo Sasse ep.Guedet Mandzela, Gabon; Mr. Shoichi Ibusuki, Japan; Ms. Shakhnoza Khassanova, Kazakhstan; Ms. Guillermina Cabrera Figueroa, Mexico; Mohammed al-Obaidly, Qatar and Rocío Mora-Nieto, Spain. Each person was carefully considered and finally chosen for this honour, where they have been described as an inspiring group of leaders, with the award celebrating their important and vital work.

The honorees will embark on a State Department-funded International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), a virtual exchange program that will allow them to gain professional development experience and connect with American communities and organizations committed to ending human trafficking.
While the TIP report and its findings make for sobering reading, let us be inspired by the encouragement from Ms. Kari Johnstone, Acting Director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, US State Department.
‘’It is through collaboration and collective understanding of both the nuances of our profoundly changed world and the needs of those affected most by the compounding effects of both human trafficking and the COVID-19 pandemic that a path forward emerges.’’

Access the report here


Displacement of People and Human Trafficking.


‘How to fight the $187 billion human trafficking industry’. Cardinal Vincent Nichols discusses his work to end human trafficking with America Media President & Editor-in-Chief, Matt Malone sj, on Conversations with America.
Watch it here (07:25).

UNICEF Report February 2018- Children on the Move: Facts and Figures.


Recently published, (February 2018), this report provides up-to-date data on Children on the Move, beginning with 10 key facts, such as:

  • As of 2016, I in 80 children were forcibly displaced.
  • In the decade between 2005 and 2015, the number of child refugees worldwide more than doubled from 4 million to 9 million.
  • In 2014, 28% of all detected trafficked victims were children (20% girls and 8% boys).
  • Worldwide, almost 1 in 10 children live in countries and areas affected by armed conflict and more than 400 million children live in extreme poverty.
  • Over 100 countries are known to detain children in immigration detention.
  • An adolescent, secondary educated boy in sub-Saharan Africa travelling in a group along the Central Mediterranean route, faces a 73% risk of being exploited – by comparison with a boy of similar age and education profile from another region drops to 38%.

RENATE subscribes to the core principles underpinning UNICEF’s Agenda for Children on the Move:

  1. Protect uprooted children from exploitation and violence.
  2. Keep families together and give children legal status.
  3. End the detention of refugee and migrant children by creating practical alternatives.
  4. Help uprooted children stay in school and stay healthy.

5 Press for action on the causes that uproot children from their homes.

  1. Combat xenophobia and discrimination.

Full report at:
Prepared by Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications.    

EUROPOL operation identifies 221 ‘potential victims of trafficking’ and the arrest of dozens of suspected human traffickers in Europe.


RENATE is encouraged by a recent EUROPOL announcement regarding an operation last month which monitored more than 22,193 people and 6,056 vehicles at more than 2,900 locations in industries including transportation, agriculture, maritime, food processing and catering. EUROPOL says dozens of suspected human traffickers have been arrested in the continent-wide operation targeting criminal gangs. The operation identified 221 “potential victims of trafficking.”
The weeklong operation involving law enforcement and other agencies from 26 countries has resulted in 133 people being detained or arrested on suspicion of human trafficking or illegal immigration. Information collected during the operation, has generated 44 new investigations.
For more:
Adapted by Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications person.

The International organisation for Migration (IOM) in Niger warn that an increasing number of migrants are taking new routes to Europe as Niger increases security at traditional transit points.


Increasing numbers of African migrants traveling through Libya in order to get to smugglers’ boats to cross the Mediterranean Sea, speak of being traded in ‘’slave markets’’ in Libya, as well as being held for ransom, forced labour or sexual exploitation.
Throughout their journey, they are at risk of being attacked by armed gangs and smuggling networks that often force them to pay extra money in exchange for being allowed to continue. The Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime estimates that migrant smuggling is worth up to $323 million a year in Libya. 
Despite the dangers of trying to reach Europe, thousands continue to take the risk and fall prey to traffickers and smugglers and are ultimately exploited, a far cry from their dreams of a better life in Europe.
For more:
Adapted by Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications Person.

Please Disturb: A 15 minute film useful for human Trafficking awareness-raising in the hotel hospitality sector.


Please Disturb shows the signs of human trafficking through the eyes of hotel staff at a hotel in the Netherlands. In the film through personal witness, hotel staff help increase awareness throughout the hotel hospitality sector and encourage colleagues in other hotels to take action.
To view the film:
Prepared by Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications Person.

Africa’s new Slave Trade on the edge of the desert in Niger.



 One of Agadez’s ‘Connection Houses,’ where middlemen put migrants in touch with people smugglers. Photograph: IOM.
One of Agadez’s ‘Connection Houses,’ where middlemen put migrants in touch with people smugglers. Photograph: IOM.

Networking, sharing resources, skills and knowledge is essential if we are to respond in light of Gospel values to the increasing numbers of migrants fleeing poverty and trying to come to Europe, with dreams and hopes of a better life.
Heretofore we have read of the tragic loss of life on the Mediterranean, as unseaworthy vessels capsize and sink, and ensuing drowning of countless thousands. Last week, both The Observer and The Guardian newspapers featured articles on the harsh realities befalling migrants as they struggle to get to the north African coast and cross the Mediterranean to Europe.
Criminal gangs prey on the migrants, charging extortionate prices for transit across the desert, only to trade the migrants to the highest bidder at markets and trading centres, historically known for centuries-old slave-trading thought to have been long-since dead.
Torture, beatings, rape and abuse are frequently meted out to those who are detained at camps as they await boats to ferry them across the Mediterranean. For those fortunate to survive, intense trauma therapies and all forms of healthcare are necessary for their long, personal journey of healing and survival.
RENATE members met many such survivors when they visited shelters with Sr. Valeria Gandini, in Palermo last January and throughout RENATE member countries, supports are ongoing, to those who sadly fall victim to human trafficking and exploitation once they eventually arrive in Europe.  (Please see January 2017 archives).
To help us respond to the needs of those traumatised by trafficking and exploitation, Human Trafficking and Trauma, will be a theme of the 2018 RENATE training programme, details of which will be available at a later stage. 
For more information on the slave trade on the edge of the desert in Niger, please see:
Prepared by Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications Person.

OSCE Conference on Trafficking in Children and the Best Interests of the Child.


Trafficking in Children and the Best interests of the Child– OSCE Annual Alliance against Trafficking in Persons Conference, 3-4 April 2017.
The aim of this year’s conference was to enhance the coherence of international efforts and further promote integrated approaches to respond to child trafficking. The conference arose from an alliance of international and civil society organisations wishing to collaborate to strengthen measures to prevent child trafficking, protect children’s rights and efficiently prosecute perpetrators.   
Focusing on the three ‘Ps’, Prevention, Protection and Prosecution, topics discussed at the conference included:
Policies and measures which may foster the best interest of the child.
Threats facing children in crisis situations.
Factors which increase children’s vulnerability.
The adequacy of existing child protection systems.
Special emphasis was given to the increasing numbers of children on the move, including unaccompanied minors and internally displaced children.  Kevin Hyland, OBE, UK Anti-Slavery Commissioner was particularly concerned about the escalation in numbers of children being trafficked and called on all countries to work together and strategically deploy their resources at prevention of any further escalation. Fr. Michael Czerny, SJ, Under Secretary of the Migrants and Refugees section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, spoke on behalf of Pope Francis, who encouraged the authorities to do more to combat human trafficking. Full message available at
360 representatives of the 57 OSCE participating States and 11 Partners for Co-operation, major international organisations and NGO’s as well as academia, civil society, the media, trade unions participated in the conference which really was a forum in which participants could analyse case studies, exchange good practices and explore possibilities for collaborations in order to adequately respond to child trafficking in a rights-based and child-friendly manner.
As RENATE is about to undertake research on Child Trafficking in seven of its member countries (Albania, Hungary, Italy, Malta, Slovakia, the Netherlands and the Ukraine), attendance at the conference will be particularly useful for the times when we may have to rely on governmental organisations and NGOs to provide data that may be otherwise inaccessible.
Official report on the conference due shortly.
Prepared by Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications.       

MEPs in Strasbourg debate a planned revision of the EU's Strategy Towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings (2012-2016).


A debate on EU anti-trafficking strategy began on 3rd April 2017 at the European parliament, Strasbourg.
MEPs have begun debating a planned revision of the EU’s Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings (2012-2016).
The current strategy served as guidance for implementing effective means of preventing trafficking, protecting victims and prosecuting traffickers. was planned to run until December 2016. Increased global migration has added an additional dimension to the challenges of human trafficking, with both migrant smuggling and human trafficking being lucrative and exploitative businesses involving human beings.  
A revised strategy has been announced but is yet to be adopted by the Commission. The draft resolution includes action by EU and member states’ external services to address poverty, oppression, lack of respect for human rights, armed conflict and economic and social inequalities.  MEP’s are also likely to call for transnational, legal and practical responses to human trafficking, in light of the fact that progress in the prosecution and conviction of human traffickers remains limited across Europe. 
Eurostat, the EU’s statistics agency, said that around 80% of “registered or presumed” victims in Europe between 2010 and 2012 were women. An EU directive passed in 2011 obliges member states to offer gender-specific support to trafficking victims.
RENATE Core Group members Marie Hćlène Halligon, gsn, and Monica Chickwe, som, will attend the 7th Annual International Symposium on Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling, in Brussels on the 17 May 2017, where the EU’s Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings will be a core, foundational document informing discussions. Attendance at the Symposium will provide RENATE with a timely and invaluable opportunity to explore developing integrated solutions to tackle human trafficking and migrant smuggling. The Symposium will also add to our knowledge-base on effective means of identifying victims, awareness raising and improving multi-lateral cooperation. 
Prepared by Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications.