NI Legislation Leads the Way in Fighting Human Trafficking

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  • ROI passes law criminalising purchase of sex, heavily influenced by NI laws last night

In a landmark decision, the Republic of Ireland has followed Northern Ireland’s example by passing a law which criminalises the purchase of sex.

This vital legislation – The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2015, was passed by a huge majority last night and is a key measure in tackling the exploitative sex trade in Ireland.

The Act follows Northern Ireland’s  Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support for Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2015  in making the purchase of sex illegal. This puts the onus onto the buyer, and the law acts as a deterrent. Greater criminal penalties for the buyer has been proven to decrease demand.

The law will have a crucial impact in the fight against modern day slavery. Human trafficking is a market that works on supply and demand, therefore reducing the demand for paid sex is a key part of reducing trafficking.

CARE’s Northern Ireland Policy Officer, Mark Baillie

“This law is ground-breaking and together with Northern Ireland’s human trafficking legalisation, which criminalises sexual purchases, it makes the whole of Ireland a hostile place for traffickers.

In passing this bill by a huge majority, the Republic of Ireland has clearly confirmed that Northern Ireland’s decision to criminalise the purchase of sex was the right move.”

“This law addresses the inequality, harm and exploitation that is at the heart of prostitution, and holds those who drive it – the buyers – responsible for their actions.

With legislation in place both sides of the border in Ireland, there will be nowhere for perpetrators to hide from this law.

CARE urges other governments to follow Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland’s example and make it illegal to pay for sexual services.”


Notes to the editor:

For more information please contact Rachael Adams on 020 7227 4708 / 07851 153693 or

CARE is a recognised voice in the lobby for the prevention of human trafficking. CARE advised on human trafficking legislation in Northern Ireland, England and Wales and Scotland.

CARE worked closely with Lord Morrow on the The Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support for Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2015.

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