What is Child Trafficking?


Child trafficking is defined as the “recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt” of a child for the purpose of exploitation. This definition comes from the United Nations Palermo Protocol. A child is defined by the Palermo Protocol and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child as any person under the age of 18. Trafficking is regarded as a form of modern slavery.

The trafficking of children is a process comprised of two distinct stages: the Act and the Purpose. This is the “recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or reception of persons, including the exchange or transfer of control over those persons … for the purpose of exploitation.”

The Means stage is not required for the definition of child trafficking. This is not to say that this stage does not occur for child victims, but the definition recognises that a child cannot give informed consent to his or her own exploitation, even if he or she agrees to travel or understands what has happened.

Download an overview of Trafficking in Children Defined in Irish Law here.

Irish children are falling through the cracks


AN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY and human rights organisation has expressed concern that Ireland’s policies on human trafficking are allowing victims to fall through the cracks, including Irish children who are victims of trafficking.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie Valiant Richey, the OSCE’s special representative for combating trafficking in human beings, said one of the main pieces lacking in Ireland’s response to human trafficking is proactive identification.

“Lots of kids are in foster care or vulnerable situations, maybe abusive, and they easily get recruited into exploitative situations,” he said. “If you’re not looking for or screening for them it’s going to be hard to find them.”

Human trafficking is the trade of humans for the purpose of forced labour, sexual slavery, or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others

The OSCE is an organisation of 57 countries focused on security and human rights in particular.  Richey engages with governments to increase attention on the issue of human trafficking as well as policy development, research, data collection and training.

He said the organisation is particularly focused now on the decline across several countries in prosecutions for human trafficking offences.

Since 2015 there has been a 42% decline globally in prosecutions of human trafficking. In Europe, prosecutions have fallen by 52%.

“That’s tremendous, it’s not a blip, that’s really taking the foot off the gas,” Richey said.

Read the full article here

Tech. Sector addressing Child Trafficking & Exploitation

Web hosting company Blacknight says it has agreed to disrupt certain types of web content, without waiting for court orders.

Blacknight has joined global industry leaders, such as GoDaddy, Nominet and Amazon, to agree a common framework to address abuse of the domain name system (DNS) by criminals.

The framework identifies four types of web content abuse that a domain name registry or registrar should act to disrupt – without waiting for a court order.

These four types of content referred to, are:

  • Child sexual abuse materials,
  • Illegal distribution of opioids online,
  • Human trafficking, and
  • Specific and credible incitements to violence.

Read the full article here

Major global hotel brands accused of profiting from Trafficking

Hotel brands owned by Hilton, Intercontinental and Best Western are among a number of leading global chains accused of profiting from sex trafficking.

In a landmark case that lawyers claim demonstrates “industry-wide failures” to prevent sex trafficking, it has been alleged that women and children were held captive, abused and sold for sex in their guest rooms across the US.

A total of 13 women have accused a dozen hotel groups of wilfully ignoring warning signs that sexual exploitation was taking place on their premises.

Read the full article here

MECPATHS provides awareness raising workshops, free of charge, for Hotels and Hospitality Groups who are committed to countering Child Trafficking in Ireland. To book your workshop, please contact info@mecpaths.ie

Cork Hotels working to end child trafficking


A CHARITY revealed how Cork hotels are becoming increasingly vulnerable to child sex trafficking.

JP O’Sullivan from MECPATHS (Mercy Efforts for Child Protection Against Trafficking with the Hospitality Sector) shed light on how the organisation’s training led to the rescue of a child in a Cork hotel.

Established in 2013 by the Sisters of Mercy, MECPATHS offers training to help those in the hospitality industry pinpoint signs of child trafficking.

He referred to one recent incident by way of explanation. “We have volunteers visiting hotels all over the country, but this one just so happened to be in Cork,” he said.

To read the full article, click here

Shannon College of Hotel Management


Our relationship with Shannon College of Hotel Management continues to grow and expand. We are always grateful to meet with the #MECPATHSClass in Shannon and to hear their direct experiences of working in industry. The passion and compassion each student at Shannon delivers in our engagement is much appreciated and the coordination by Orla Cullinane is superb.

We are very aware that as Child Trafficking continues to grow as a challenge, the industry leaders of tomorrow offer a unique opportunity to counter Trafficking across and within their industry. Wherever the students end up as leaders, they will bring their education with them. The diversity of home-country students adds much vibrancy to our workshops and diversity-benefit offered in Shannon is excellent.

With continued gratitude to all at Shannon and to our future relationship development, we look forward to building towards a safer future for all who may find themselves exploited and vulnerable.



“We in the hospitality industry and related education sector, therefore, have a huge responsibility in raising awareness around this issue. Training our staff on what warning signs they can be looking out for and how we can all take steps to help counteract this growing worldwide problem. MECPATHS are currently doing some incredible work on this front and have been running very effective workshops with all our first year students here in Shannon over the past year”. Dr. Phillip J Smyth, Head of College, Shannon College of Hotel Management.

MECPATHS join DELL’s #initiativeforfreedom


MECPATHS joined Cork Sexual Violence Centre and A21 on Friday 18th October to mark EU Anti Trafficking Day at DELL’s Ovens-based plant in Cork. Celebrating the launch of DELL’s #InitiativeForFreedom, JP spoke on behalf of MECPATHS and echoed the voices of Mary Crilly, CSVC, and Charlie Blythe, A21, who called for an increased awareness and growth in responsiveness to Human Trafficking, globally. The event was streamed globally across DELL EMEA sites and was attended by Cork-based staff.

With appreciation to Aisling from DELL who coordinated the event and to each member of the team present who extended their generous support to MECPATHS. We look forward to working with DELL in Ireland to build on our growing relationship and to delivering awareness and measurable actions together.