Emergency care order for suspected child victim of trafficking from Ukraine

The District Court made an emergency care order (ECO) in respect of an unaccompanied minor who had arrived in Ireland from the Ukraine. The minor had arrived in Ireland with cuts and a bruise on her face and in the company of a man who was no relation.

The social worker told the court that the child presented at the Ukrainian centre at the airport with no identification and in the company of this man. The child was interviewed by a social worker and initially said that the man was her uncle but then said that he was her cousin. It later transpired that the man was not related to her.

Judge: “If someone was trying to traffic someone from Ukraine they wouldn’t bring her to the Ukraine centre?”

Social worker: “No, they wouldn’t, but there are people checking at the airport.”

The girl told authorities that she had known the man for four years, that he bought her nice things and that her parents didn’t look after her. The Child and Family Agency (CFA) had attempted to make telephone contact with the girl’s family using numbers in the child’s phone but had been unsuccessful. It was understood her mother and grandmother were in two different EU countries. One of the people contacted, the mother’s former partner, told the CFA that the man the girl was with was not a good man and that she should be taken away from him.

The man who accompanied the girl to Ireland was arrested and interviewed by the Gardai. He was released without charge and his whereabouts were currently unknown.

The girl had told authorities that she met the man in school four years ago, and that he was a good man. She had asked repeatedly if she could speak with him and said that she wanted to speak to him about a lady issue. The court was told that she presented as a very vulnerable person. The girl had told the social worker that she was 17 and provided a passport, but the social worker told the court that she presented as much younger.

The social worker said that it might be that the girl had some intellectual difficulties because even with the Ukrainian interpreter it was difficult to understand her. The girl told social workers that she attended a special school in the Ukraine and that her stepfather drank vodka all of the time.

The judge granted the ECO and said that the girl was a vulnerable child who had come into the country with a man who was no relation to her, but who was not a stranger to her, and with no parent to care for her.