Naughten welcomes announcement of consultation on prostitution laws

In News by Denis Naughten

Ireland must not become the red light island of Europe

Denis Naughten TD has welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Justice that he is to seek the views of the public on plans to reform Ireland’s prostitution laws.


“This announcement comes following a Department of Justice report on the Swedish ban on availing of the services of a prostitute and also on foot of a Private Members Motion which I tabled in Dáil Eireann in November 2009,” stated Denis Naughten.

“The fact is that we cannot ignore the reform of prostitution laws which is taking place right throughout Northern Europe and if we fail to act Ireland will become the red light island of Europe.

“It is also important to point out that there is a direct connection between the trafficking of women and children into and through Ireland and the sex industry.

“The publication of the Departmental review and the planned consultation process is a positive step towards reforming our out-dated laws,” concluded Denis Naughten.


Private Members motion on Human Trafficking from November 2009
That Dáil Éireann:

Notes with alarm that:
• A minimum of 102 women and girls have been clearly identified in a recent report as sex trafficked in 2007 and 2008, 11 of whom were children when they arrived in Ireland and that none of these women knew they were destined for the Irish sex trade;
• Up to 97% of the 1,000 women involved in indoor prostitution in Ireland at any given time are migrant women;
• Victims of trafficking are identified by this government as illegal immigrants first and consequently imprisoned and identified as victims second;
• This Government offers no independent accommodation or support services to victims of trafficking;

Considering that:
• Several European countries have successfully tackled human trafficking and forced prostitution by the introduction of legislation criminalising the buying of sex;
• The UK is introducing legislation to reduce prostitution and human trafficking which will directly impact on the Republic of Ireland;

Calls on the Government to:
• End the policy of placing victims of human trafficking in asylum centres and introduce independent accommodation, support and protection services;
• Extend the “period of recovery and reflection” as defined in the Immigration, Residency and Protection Bill 2008 now before Dáil Éireann;
• Move the focus on human trafficking from Garda National Immigration Bureau to the Garda Organised Crime Unit;
• Extend the remit of the Department of Justice’s Anti-Human Trafficking Unit to include migrant women in prostitution;
• Establish a High Level Group to examine our prostitution laws with a view to preventing the proliferation of sex trafficking.

Denis Naughten TD


Minister Shatter announces publication of his Department’s report on Sweden’s legislation to combat prostitution and human trafficking

17 October 2011

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Mr. Alan Shatter T.D., today announced publication of a report of the Department of Justice and Equality on Sweden’s legislation criminalising the purchase of sexual services – often referred to as the “Swedish model”.

In July, 2010 Sweden published the findings from the first formal evaluation of its 1999 ban on the purchase of sexual services. In September last year, the Dignity Project arranged a visit to Sweden by a group which included representatives of what was then the Department of Justice and Law Reform and An Garda Síochána to meet officials and experts in this area and to discuss the Swedish legislation and its operation. Following the visit, a report was prepared by the Department for the then Minister, and after consideration by him it was submitted to the Attorney General’s Office.

Since then Minister Shatter has carefully examined the report and the advice subsequently received from the Attorney General.

Announcing publication of the report, Minister Shatter stated “I am determined to ensure that everything that can possibly be done to combat prostitution and human trafficking will be done. However, it will be recognised that any proposal to criminalise the purchase of sex within our legal and constitutional framework raises complex issues and would have to be considered very carefully. Also, it is inevitable that there will be conflicting views about such a proposal and representations made to me in this matter reflect different and genuinely held views. There has been much media coverage on these matters and, in order to help inform public debate, I have decided to put my Department’s report into the public domain.”

Minister Shatter also said “I am concerned to ensure that public debate on this issue is open to the widest possible audience. I therefore intend to arrange a consultation process to help inform the future direction of legislation on prostitution”. A consultation document to facilitate this process is being prepared and the Minister will make a further announcement shortly.

The report is available on the Department’s website

The Dignity Project was an EU funded, inter-agency and inter-jurisdictional research project which examined services provided for victims of human trafficking with a view to replicating best practice models in partner countries. Led by the Dublin Employment Pact and the Immigrant Council of Ireland, Dignity concluded its work at a final conference held in February, 2011.

Legislation introduced in Sweden in 1999 provides that a person who obtains or attempts to obtain a casual sexual relation, in any place, in return for payment commits the offence of purchase of sexual service.

In Ireland, traditionally the law has had two objectives. Firstly, it is aimed at protecting society from the more intrusive aspects of such activity from a public order perspective. For that reason, under the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 1993, which codified the law relating to prostitution, it is an offence to solicit in a street or public place for the purposes of prostitution. The offence can be committed by the client, the prostitute or a third party – a pimp, for example. The second objective of the law on prostitution is to protect prostitutes from exploitation. Accordingly, under the 1993 legislation, it is an offence to organise prostitution, coerce or compel a person to be a prostitute, knowingly live off the earnings of a prostitute, or keep or manage a brothel.

In this jurisdiction, it is not an offence, in itself, to sell sex. In general, it is not an offence to purchase sex either. However, the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008 made it an offence to knowingly solicit or importune a trafficked person, in any place, for the purpose of prostitution.