An investigation is underway into suspected human trafficking in Cork.
Gardaí carried out searches of two premises in the Charleville/Mallow areas on foot of a warrant on Sunday as part of an intelligence-led operation into suspected human trafficking in the Cork North Garda Division.
The search was carried out with the assistance of the Armed Support Unit, the Southern Region Dog Unit and gardaí from across North Cork Division.
During the searches, 24 adults present were interviewed.
Three men, who are suspected to have been recently trafficked into the country, were taken from the properties and were said to be receiving assistance.
On Tuesday afternoon gardaí said no arrests had been made and the investigation is ongoing.
Commenting on human trafficking, Mary Crilly, director of the Sexual Violence Centre Cork which is a member of the Cork Against Human Trafficking group, said she welcomed the gardaí’s “proactive’ operation, but she said the Government need to take more action in this area.
Ms Crilly highlighted how a recent major US Government report into the trafficking of people saw Ireland drop from a Tier Two country to a Tier Two watchlist position.
The US Trafficking in Persons Report, published by the US Department of State last month, said the Government of Ireland does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so.
These efforts included increasing prosecutions and funding to NGOs for victim assistance.
It noted that authorities in Ireland had identified 42 suspected trafficking victims last year, down from 64 in 2018 and 57 in 2017, and the lowest number since 2013.
Of the 42 victims identified in 2019, 38 were female (seven of whom were children) and four were male (two of whom were children), the report said.
The Sexual Violence Centre Cork director pointed out that around 75 per cent of people who are trafficked are women and children while around 25 per cent are men.
She said that in addition to sex trafficking, young men and women are also trafficked for labour.
The searches in Cork were carried out just days ahead of World Day of Trafficking In Persons on July 30.
The event is being marked here by Cork Against Human Trafficking, whose membership also includes NASC, Cork Migrant Centre, and the HSE amongst others.
Cork Against Human Trafficking is asking people to join them in saying no to human trafficking in Cork by displaying window stickers on their premises or cars and sharing these online using the #Corksaysno and #hiddeninplainsight hashtags.