Tuesday 5 November 2013

Vatican Focuses on Human Trafficking, Modern Slavery, at Pope's Request


An international workshop on human trafficking, modern slavery, held at the Vatican last weekend, examines the real dimensions of this criminal activity, with a view to better combating it.

The Vatican is hosting an international workshop on human trafficking this weekend (November 2-3), at the request of Pope Francis. The aim is to get an accurate picture of “the real state” of this heinous criminal activity against human dignity in order to explore new ways to better combat it.

Recent trends reveal that trafficking in human beings, which includes forced labor and sexual exploitation, has become the most profitable criminal activity in the world, surpassing both drugs and arms trafficking, according to Archbishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academies for Sciences and for Social Sciences.

Pope Francis is well aware that this criminal trade destroys the lives of so many millions of human beings. He was directly involved in combating it in Buenos Aires, where he also actively supported the work of the Fundacion Alameda, a lay, non-confessional organization in Argentina, headed by Gustavo Vera.

When, soon after his election as pope, the President of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences (PAS), the Argentinean Archbishop Sanchez Sorondo, asked him if he would like the PAS to focus on any particular issue, Francis immediately responded with a hand-written note saying “it would be good” for the academy “to deal with the trafficking in persons and modern slavery”, adding that it might also include in that study “the trafficking in organs”.

The result is this weekend’s international workshop on “Trafficking in Human Beings: Modern Slavery. Destitute peoples and the message of Jesus Christ.”

Organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, together with the World Federation of Catholic Medical Associations (FIAMC), the meeting is being held at the academies’ headquarters in Vatican City.

It brings together some seventy delegates, from the Church, States and civil society, including representatives of some of the Bishops Conference most deeply involved with this problem and of the United Nations organizations active in the field. Participants come from Argentina (including Gustavo Vera), Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, England, France, Guatemala, Ireland, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, USA, and other lands.

The human dimensions of the problem are enormous and the number of victims is increasing every year. An estimated 21 million people were victims of “forced labor” worldwide between 2002 and 2012 according to the International Labor Organization; the figure includes “victims of human trafficking for labor and sexual exploitation”.

Some 2 million people are victims of sexual trafficking each year; 60% of these victims are girls, according to the 2012 UN Report of the Trafficking of persons. Human organ trafficking affects around 1% of that figure, and affects some 20,000 people who are forced or deceived into giving up an organ (liver, kidney, pancreas, cornea, lung, even the heart), according to UN. Doctors, nurses and other medical staff, who have pledged to follow Hippocrates’ oath, are involved in this illegal activity.

These chilling figures "represent only the tip of the iceberg, as criminals generally go to great lengths to prevent the detection of their activities", the Vatican archbishop, Sanchez Sorondo, stated. While “some observers speculate that, within ten years, human trafficking will surpass drugs and weapons trafficking to become the most profitable criminal activity in the world”, he said “recent trends indicate that human trafficking is already in the first place, so that far from being a declining social crime, it is becoming ever more threatening.”

“International sex trafficking is not limited to poor and undeveloped areas of the world – it is a problem in virtually every region of the globe”, he said, drawing on UN and other sources. He noted that “countries with large (often legal) sex industries create the demand for trafficked women and girls, while countries where traffickers can easily recruit provide the supply.” On a more general level, he said “economically depressed countries provide the easiest recruitment for traffickers” while “the regions that produce the most sex trafficking victims are the former Soviet republics, Asia, and Latin America.”

This weekend’s workshop is only the first part of a much wider response to the Pope’s wish. A seminar on the same subject is being planned for 2014, and a plenary session of the two Pontifical Academies will be held in 2015, Archbishop Sanchez Sorondo revealed. 

No comments:

Post a Comment