Wednesday, 30 June 2010
Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform
Question 35: To ask the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the common use of websites to promote prostitution and sexual exploitation, often of vulnerable young women, many of whom have been trafficked; the steps he will take to ensure the law is enforced; if he is satisfied that the law is adequate to deal with this situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28335/10]
I am informed by the Garda authorities that they monitor websites of the kind referred to by the Deputy, particularly as part of Operation Quest, which is aimed particularly at the involvement of organised crime in prostitution.
I should mention also that section 23 of the Act created the offence of publishing or distributing an advertisement for a brothel or the services of a prostitute in the State, in terms, circumstances or manner which gives rise to the reasonable inference that the premises is a brothel or the service is one of prostitution. "Advertisement" in this context is defined as including every form of advertising or promotion, including by way of computer monitor, telephone, photography or other like means of communication.
However, I understand that difficulties arise in practice because the websites in question are hosted abroad. When I launched the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking in June 2009, I emphasised the Government's commitment to protect vulnerable people who may become victims of traffickers and to tackle the crime of human trafficking. The Government has taken strong legislative, administrative and operational measures to combat and prevent trafficking in persons for both sexual and labour exploitation purposes. The Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008 has greatly strengthened the law in this area. A dedicated Anti-Human Trafficking Unit was established in my Department in February, 2008 with the purpose of ensuring that the State's response to human trafficking is coordinated and comprehensive. This has led to the production of the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking.
In addition, An Garda Síochána has established a Human Trafficking Investigation and Co-ordination Unit. I am confident that the Force is vigorously pursuing enforcement of the law in this area. The Garda authorities have conducted a number of operations to combat brothel keeping, prostitution and human trafficking and will continue to do so in line with the intelligence available to them. The law in relation to prostitution is kept under continuing review in my Department.