IRELAND has been ranked as the worst country in western Europe for tackling the issue of human trafficking, according to a report by the US Department of State.
The report, which was released on Thursday, analyses different nations' responses to eliminating illegal human trafficking and Ireland has been downgraded from 'tier two' to 'tier two watchlist', meaning that the country hasn't increased its efforts to combat the issue since last year.
Ireland doesn't fully meet the minimum standards for tackling the problem according to the report and now finds itself in a group alongside the likes of Sudan, Cambodia and Saudi Arabia.
Ireland was ranked in tier one until 2018.
A nation's ranking is based on its government's efforts to stamp out and find a solution to the issue of human trafficking, which could include passing legislation or vocalising a commitment to solving the problem.
In total there are five tiers; 'tier one', 'tier two', 'tier two watchlist', 'tier three' and 'special case'.
No other nation is western Europe is ranked as low as Ireland, and only three European nations are ranked in lower categories.
In comparison, the likes of the UK, the US, Canada and Australia are all in 'tier one'.
"The government continued to have systematic deficiencies in victim identification, referral, and assistance,” the report says.
"The government continued to lack specialised accommodation and adequate services for victims, and the amended working scheme for sea fishers increased their vulnerability to trafficking."
It says there have no been trafficking convictions since law amendments in 2013 which "weakened deterrence, contributed to impunity for traffickers, and undermined efforts to support victims to testify."
The report adds that "human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Ireland" as well as exploiting victims from Ireland abroad.
To view the report in full, click here.