Global Response to Human Trafficking

Much good work has been carried out by Santa Marta Group members working together to eliminate Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery by 2030.

Following the 2018 Santa Marta Conference, held at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in the Vatican, progress reports were submitted by several Santa Marta Group members charting some of the achievements and developments of the past year.

Below is a brief summary of each country report with a link to the read the report in full.


  • In 2017, the Office of the National Coordinator for the Fight against Trafficking in Persons held a series of meetings, trainings and workshops in cooperation with state structures, international organisations and partners in the fight against trafficking of persons.
  • During 2017, a total of 202 criminal acts of trafficking in human beings were identified, out of which 154 were investigated with 260 perpetrators identified. Seven criminal gangs were also disrupted resulting in 37 arrests.
  • There has been an increase information sharing with international partners and this has led to conducting join investigations and operations.


  • Police units against human trafficking were set up across the country. These units are working in conjunction with civil and ecclesiastical associations.
  • Three conferences took place for the law enforcement which the Oblates Sisters of the Most Holy Redeemer presented at about their work with victims of trafficking. These conferences trained 320 law enforcement officers.
  • In 2016-17 the Argentine Federal Police were directly involved in the cases of 725 victims and arrested 140 people accused of trafficking.


  • In 2016-17 the Australian Federal Police received 150 new human trafficking referrals, this is an 11% decrease on 2015-16.
  • Australia contributes to combating human trafficking and slavery in the Asia Pacific region, including investment in building criminal justice responses to trafficking under the Australia-Asia Program to Combat Trafficking in Persons, and investment in supporting safe and legal migration in ASEAN.
  • The Australian Federal Police recognises the need for a comprehensive, coordinated national law enforcement response to human trafficking, delivering a series of training programs and a ‘Look a Little Deeper’ campaign.

Canada- Law Enforcement and Church

  • Human trafficking for sexual exploitation continues to constitute the majority of trafficking cases encountered by law enforcement across Canada, most often in large urban centres and with most victims being Canadian women.
  • Human Trafficking National Coordination Center provided, coordinated and led Operation Northern Spotlight, a Canadian law enforcement outreach operation that proactively targets vulnerable persons to identify and assist those that may be at risk of human trafficking; 14 persons were arrested and a total of 21 charges were laid, including trafficking in persons.
  • During the Plenary of the Bishops of Canada human trafficking was presented and Royal Canadian Police shared information.


  • Since late 2016, the offences linked with human trafficking have been redefined and adapted to the terms of the EU Directive 2011/36/EU. Human trafficking (recruitment, transport etc.) for purposes of exploitation has become an offence in its own right. On 1 July 2017, a comprehensive Act on the Protection of Prostitutes entered into force, which regulates legal prostitution in Germany by compulsory registration, legal requirements and other means of control. It is hoped that the law will also contribute to suppressing human trafficking for sexual exploitation.
  • In May 2017, the German Bishops’ Conference and the Bundeskriminalamt organised a workshop on the issue of human trafficking and labour exploitation with representatives of the Catholic foreign-language missions in Germany. The idea was to raise awareness among pastors and other persons responsible for the pastoral care of foreigners, to inform them about recent legislative developments.
  • SOLWODI (Solidarity with Women in Distress), an organisation of Catholic sisters and professional lay women, gave a special focus training to “special case officers” of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF). SOLWODI have started to train chaplains of hospitals and prisons.


  • An updated national Action Plan has been drafted for consultation in the parliamentary sub-committee on trafficking human beings.
  • Between 2015-2016 Greece offered protection to 38 officially identified victims of human trafficking and 370 presumed victims of human trafficking. This included 129 minors. There were 69 criminal prosecutions.
  • National Referral Mechanism is being reviewed to include more front line professionals and stakeholders into the screening and identification process.


  • Ireland has again been recognised in 2017 as a Tier 1 Nation in the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report. Participation in the Santa Marta Group formed part of Ireland’s submission to the US State Department.
  • An Garda Síochána and the Department of Justice and Equality have received funding for the planned research project in conjunction with the Mary Immaculate College, Limerick. The project is aimed at identifying high quality data sets that exist in Ireland on Human Trafficking.
  • An Garda Síochána have planned to establish Divisional Protective Service Units within the 28 Garda Divisions nationwide, which replicates the services offered by the National Protective Services Bureau National Unit. Four of these are up and running in 2017.


  • CEMIRDE ran awareness raising campaigns on the radio at national and regional levels. These focused on geographical areas that had the highest flow of migration.
  • At a national level Mozambique has approved legislation against trafficking, it is putting together a national plan of prevention and has integrated care centres and services for victims of gender-based violence.
  • CEMIRDE is working to strengthen cooperation with other border countries, to combat institutional corruption and to introduce the issue trafficking into the school curriculum.


  • Between July 2016-June 2017 70 communities within seven dioceses in Myanmar were targeted for anti-human trafficking and safe migration awareness sessions. This reached 347,200 community members and established 70 community watch groups.
  • Coordination meetings were conducted with the Department of Social Welfare and the Department of Labour. The Church in Myanmar participated in national level forums and meetings.
  • 112 cases were received for referral through this collaboration work.


  • The Philippines chaired the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit. At the summit the ASEAN Consensus on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Worker was signed. This agreement is expected to benefit migrant workers in the ASEAN grid and their respective economies.
  • In April 2017 the Philippines and the United States signed the Child Protection Compact (CPC) Partnership which is a jointly developed plan to address and respond to online sexual exploitation of children and child labour trafficking in the Philippines.
  • The Philippine National Police have conducted 778 trafficking operations, rescued 3,341 victims and arrested 682 suspects. The legal framework and police structures have been strengthened to increase capacity to fight human trafficking.
  • The Catholic Church Against Trafficking in Human Beings (CNAHT), was launched July 2017. It is a bishop-led national body, which will have a representation in every diocese and, hopefully, in every parish to curb the threat of trafficking.


  • In April 2017 a training was organised aimed at the police and border guard officers. This included a presentation on the Church’s achievements in combatting and preventing human trafficking. The Church’s work concentrates mainly on pastoral care of victims through religious orders.
  • In 2017 135 investigations were launched, 124 suspects charged and 112 victims were rescued.
  • The Polish police cooperate internationally with Interpol, Europol, Eurojust, Frontex and an EU platform EMPACT to exchange information and on trans-border cases.


  • As part of the European Union’s Policy Cycle, Romania have permanently participated within the EMPACT framework dedicated to the fight against human trafficking and have currently assumed the co-driver position of trafficking human beings priority for the EU Policy Cycle 2018-2021.
  • The Romanian National Agency Against Trafficking in Persons (ANITP) has run national prevention communication campaigns. During 2014-2017, the ANITP started a partnership with the Ecumenical Association of Churches of Romania (AIDRom) and implemented four national prevention campaigns that addressed human trafficking.
  • Romania is taking steps towards developing a data collection methodology which would allow for coherent, comprehensive and comparable statistics on human trafficking at both national level and the destination countries.


  • Public awareness of human trafficking in Scotland is increasing. After 2016 SMG conference there was press coverage on national news.
  • Police Scotland have been proactively tacking human trafficking and have rescued victims from both urban and rural communities.
  • Port chaplains have been trained to be aware of human trafficking in the maritime sector.

Southern Africa

  • In March 2017 a conference was held with the Bishops of South Africa, Swaziland, Botswana and Mozambique. Members of the police force, border patrol, NGOs working in this area and civil servants participated.
  • The SACBC continues to host a special desk dealing with human trafficking. This desk deals with pastoral responses to the scourge of trafficking in persons and is at the forefront of prevention campaigns in the faith community.
  • A new development initiated by the African Forum for Catholic Social Teaching based in Harare Zimbabwe has started to provide a pastoral platform to assist trafficked persons. At present it has contact with 14 Zimbabwean women who had been trafficked to Kuwait.

Spain- Law Enforcement  and Church

  • In 2017 there were 610 operations against human trafficking, an increase from 510 in 2016. Within the National Police Force the Social Partners against trafficking human beings has been created to refer victims, share resources and integrate with police operations.
  • The Church encourages and prepares resources to celebrate prayer vigils during the World Day of Prayer for Human Trafficking and they have taken actions on World Day against Trafficking in Persons and European Day against Trafficking in Persons.
  • A resource is being created for young people to be used in educational environments, both religious and private schools. This is part of wider prevention work being delivered in schools.


  • There are approximately four million migrants in Thailand, many are in an irregular situation and the estimate is that between 4% and 23% of these irregular migrants could be classified as victims of human trafficking.
  • Catholic Network Against Trafficking in Thailand (CNATT) has been established. This Catholic network has 25 members representing religious Sisters, Caritas Thailand and dioceses which are actively working against trafficking and have a commitment to ending it.
  • CNATT acts to keep the Bishops up to date on the situation and actively cooperates within the region on anti-trafficking efforts through Caritas Asia and its Caritas GMS (Greater Mekong sub-Region) anti-Trafficking Task Force.

UK- Law Enforcement and The Clewer Initiative

  • In 2017 the Church of England set up the ‘Clewer Initiative’ to work with 10 Church of England Dioceses to build capacity to detect modern slavery in the community and provide care to survivors.
  • The Metropolitan Police have seen referrals in modern slavery case increase, in 2016 there were 1,013 cases and by October 2017 there were already over 1,300 cases.
  • In 2017 the Met supported the Home Office in organising an international conference involving government & law enforcement partners from Poland and Lithuania. The event was part of an initiative to formalise bilateral agreements to help combat modern slavery including the raising of awareness within vulnerable communities.

USA- Law Enforcement  and Church

  • In 2017 US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) administered a federal government programme to provide case management services to over 200 foreign national victims of trafficking.
  • USCCB has trained activists from across the US to build up anti-trafficking capacity within the community. USCCB also runs COMPASS, its anti-trafficking maritime programme. This year the USCCB programme ‘dignity of work’ will provide employment related assistance to prepare victims to enter employment through individual coaching, skill attainment and educational resources.
  • In 2017 Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) coordinated 22 international training events for foreign law enforcement, prosecutors, and victim service providers, which were attended by personnel from 72 countries.
  • HSI developed human trafficking training modules which are part of the permanent curricula for the Department of State, and International Law Enforcement Academies in Bangkok, Budapest, Gaborone and San Salvador.
  • Between 1 October 2016 and 30 September 2017, HSI initiated 833 human trafficking investigations, resulting in 1,602 criminal arrests, 921 indictments, and 578 convictions. 518 human trafficking victims and 1,126 child exploitation victims were identified during HSI investigations and referred for services.

Oblate Sisters of the Most Holy Redeemer

  • There is active collaboration with the Argentine Federal Police and the oblates have delivered several presentations and trainings.
  • The congregation continue to run the ‘Serra-Schönthal Foundation’ for women who practice prostitution and and/or are victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation. It also offers small grants for training, awareness and empowerment of these women.
  • The congregation has three schools in Argentina are working in them to prevent and raise awareness of trafficking.



The information and views set out in these reports are those of the individual institutions contained herein and may not reflect the official opinion or position of the Santa Marta Group.

These documents may not be copied, distributed, published, reproduced or used in any way, in whole or part, without the express permission of the Santa Marta Group.