Experts explain that trafficking usually involves the movement of people for the purposes of exploitation. The intention to exploit is the key factor in defining the crime, not whether the person consented to the journey, although this is often not understood by authorities coming in to contact with victims.
The UK’s new Modern Slavery Act consolidates existing legislation defining trafficking as a criminal offence.
There are separate offences of trafficking into and out of the UK and within a country so that the act of moving a worker into and out of the UK and into Ireland for labour exploitation could in certain circumstance be considered as three trafficking offences.
Under Irish law an individual is considered a trafficker if he or she has “coerced, threatened, abducted or otherwise used force against the trafficked persons or if they have deceived or committed a fraud against them”. The crime of trafficking also applies if someone “abused his or her authority or took advantage or the vulnerability of the trafficked person to such an extent as to cause the trafficked person to have had no real alternative but to submit to being trafficked”. Irish law also makes clear that the issue of consent is no defence against the crime.
Controlling where someone lives and denying them freedom of movement falls under the definition of harbouring for exploitation, which is also an offence.
The UN’s International Labour Organisation includes trafficking for labour exploitation under its definitions of “forced labour”, which it uses to define all forms of modern slavery. It has key indicators for those seeking to determine whether someone is a victim of forced labour. These include: the use of intimidation or threats, isolation, restriction of movement, abuse of vulnerability, deception, physical violence, abusive living or working conditions and retention of identity documents.
A person can only be classified as a victim of trafficking after being assessed and identified as such by a “compentent authority” from the Home Office or UK Human Trafficking Centre in the UK or a Garda Síochána (the police) in Ireland.