Former American President Jimmy Carter has called on the Irish government to follow through on its proposed tough new laws cracking down on prostitution and those who pay for sex.

President Carter has urged Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny and members of the Dublin parliament to enforce the proposed new laws with immediate effect.

He has also written to Ireland’s Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald in a bid to hasten the law which cracks down on pimps and those who buy sex.

In the letter to all members of parliament, President Carter said politicians must act to end the exploitation, abuse and trafficking of women and girls.

The Irish Independent reports that President Carter praised the Irish politicians for ‘making significant progress’ towards changing the law.

But a year has now passed since the parliament’s Justice Committee presented its recommendations for legislative change.

President Carter said: “There is little doubt that public exposure in a trial and the imposition of a fine or jail time for a few men who are prominent citizens or police officers who were buying or profiting from the sex trade would prove to be an extremely effective deterrent.

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“Prostitution is inherently violent towards women and girls and I support efforts to help those who are trapped in this industry.

“I hope that you will lead your nation towards the protection of prostituted women and girls with a sense of urgency.”

The report adds that President Carter contacted the Irish politicians after he was briefed on the issue by the Immigrant Council of Ireland.

The council is one of 70 organizations which make up the Turn Off the Red Light Campaign in Ireland.

The campaign group is in the final stages of preparing draft legislation which will make the buying of sex illegal with fines of up to $5,000 and possible imprisonment for repeat offenders.

President Carter added that the limited progress towards criminalizing the buyers of sex in Ireland was significant.

He said it would help bring long-term funding for exit programs to assist prostitutes to escape exploitation.

The former President also suggested that reform would develop awareness to promote the equality of women and reveal the violence, inequality and coercion in the vice trade.

The Immigrant Council's CEO told the paper: “This contribution by a global figure who enjoys international respect again shows the importance of the debate which has taken place here in Ireland and the need for urgent political leadership to bring this issue to a conclusion.”

Similar reforms are due to be enforced in Canada before Christmas.