Church urges practical, effective action against human trafficking, slavery

Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations in New York on Nov. 9 addressed a conference on “Practical Solutions to Eradicate Human Trafficking”.

The Holy See and the Catholic Church are deeply committed in the fight against human trafficking and modern slavery, both in tackling the drivers that fuel the scourge and in reaching out to victims.

Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations in New York made the statement on November 9 at a conference at the UN on “Practical Solutions to Eradicate Human Trafficking”.

Crime still growing

The Holy See diplomat noted that despite substantial progress against human trafficking through various initiatives, the number of those enslaved for sexual exploitation, forced labour or organ harvesting sadly continues to skyrocket.

As the world is about to mark the 70th anniversary of the adoption of Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, he noted that more than 40 million today are ensnared by various forms of modern slavery.

According to Pope Francis, the gap between our commitments and efforts and the horrors confronting victims of this “atrocious scourge,” “crime against humanity,” and “ open wound on the body of contemporary society,” is increasing, not closing.

Hence “solemn commitments” alone will not help, but we must ensure they are “truly effective”.

In this regard, Archbishop Auza pointed to the 4 objectives of the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons: preventing human trafficking by addressing its causes; protecting and assisting victims; prosecuting criminals; and promoting partnerships among institutions and civil society.

Effective action

Among the drivers that make people vulnerable to human trafficking, the Filipino archbishop said, armed conflicts and the refugee crisis have particularly exacerbated the dramatic situation of people, especially women and children.

We must become far more practical, even ruthless, in addressing not just the evil fruit but also the roots of the problem, he said.

Church’s commitment

Catholic women’s religious communities in many countries, Archbishop Auza said, have been among the practical leaders on the ground in this most important work.

He mentioned Church initiatives such as the Santa Marta Group, an international alliance of police chiefs and bishops economic realities, and Talitha Kum, an international network of 22 institutes of Catholic religious sisters across 70 countries on five continents, in big cities and the most rural areas.

Article originally posted on vaticannews.va