Saturday, July 28, 2007

Ireland a gateway for child smuggling: BBC

Ireland is being used as a gateway to smuggle children from Bulgaria to Britain, according to claims made in an expose on child trafficking.

A member of an organised criminal gang in Bulgaria told BBC News that their preferred route to smuggle children was across land through France and Ireland.

The Irish Refugee Council has said it is not surprised at the news that Ireland is being used as a gateway for such activity.

The Council's Separated Children's Officer, Jyothi Kanics, said there had been some indications of Ireland being used as a country of transit and destination for the trafficking of persons, but she said what is alarming is that this is affecting young children.

She also said that there is not enough evidence of how human trafficking is working, but that there is some ongoing research into the issue by different agencies looking at the issue.

In a statement this evening in response to the BBC investigation, a spokesperson for the Minister for Justice, Brian Lenihan, said there was no evidence to suggest that Ireland has a substantial human trafficking problem.

However, the spokesperson said they were putting in place robust measures to ensure Ireland can comprehensively deal with it.

He said the gardaí were working very closely with their counterparts in other EU states and it is planned that new legislation will be in place before the end of the year.

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