Second Africa Regional Conference of the Santa Marta Group

The second African Regional Conference of the Santa Marta Group took place in Nairobi, Kenya from the 1st to the 4th October 2019. The theme of the conference was “Sensitising the Communities on Human Trafficking in Africa”.

Participants for the conference were drawn from key stakeholders; among them were, Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB), Civil Society Organizations, partners, representatives of the National Government of Kenya and Law enforcement, delegates from Swaziland, South Africa, Angola, Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria, The United Kingdom and Rome.

Presentations were delivered by speakers with a wealth of experiences in dealing with the issues of trafficking from Africa. The participants critically analysed and contextualised the contents of the presentations in line with the role and the contribution of the Church, Civil Society and Law Enforcement in the social transformation from the African perspective, in addressing the issue of human trafficking emanating from the continent.

The guiding principles of the conference were:

  • the context of the SDGs and Agenda 2063 in human trafficking
  • trends of human trafficking in East Africa and beyond
  • the initiative by the Government of Kenya to combat human trafficking
  • the protection of victims of human trafficking in Eastern Africa
  • the way in which the Catholic Church in East Africa can play the role of a counter-trafficking agent at the community level

At the end of the conference, a communique was recommended for action. It was generally recommended that the delegates should engage in a structure that supports the work of the Santa Marta Group. Practical ways include a direct commitment by each Diocese to establish SMG and encourage and promote.

Santa Marta Group Recommendations

Pope Francis has stated, “This immense task, which requires courage, patience and perseverance, demands a joint and global effort on the part of the different actors that make up society.” At the end of the Nairobi conference, the delegates proposed the following recommendations;

  • Each Bishops’ Conference and diocese to create a Desk dealing with Human Trafficking in the spirit of Santa Marta.
  • Bishops Conference to identify hot spots/ endemic to address three levels of human trafficking being origin, transit and destination that facilitate human trafficking
  • Governments should avail adequate infrastructure that is family-oriented which is women and children focused.
  • Promote Safe migration in order to discourage the activities of human trafficking.
  • Each Bishops’ conference to create safe houses for victims of human trafficking
  • Develop programmes particular to their situations that will provide and establish means of livelihood such as agribusiness and entrepreneurship.
  • The bishops’ conferences to collaborate with the law enforcement authorities, judiciary, immigration department, police forces on addressing issues of human trafficking
  • The Catholic Bishops to involve other faiths in the fight against Human Trafficking
  • The Catholic Bishops should help in integrating the victims of Human Trafficking and those caught in the business of prostitution.
  • The Catholic Bishops to use the existing platforms such as Catechism classes, Small Christian Communities, religious retreats and gatherings to create and deepen awareness on human trafficking.
  • Training on human trafficking to be included in the curriculum of the religious houses of formation, seminaries and, catechetical centres and catholic schools.
  • All the commissions of the conference to create synergies and reach out to the grassroots.
  • Capitalize on the annual forum that brings all the catholic principals together and sensitize them on human trafficking. To target the annual meeting for primary school headteachers too.
  • Work with Embassies in addressing the issue.
  • Workshops to be conducted for the clergy to understand the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) (Ref. 8.7) and its importance to our work and why the church should network with the government.
  • Combine efforts with academia, civil society and state to curb Human Trafficking.
  • Catholic Bishops Conferences to initiate standard operating procedures to detect misuse of the institutions by traffickers
  • The Catholic Bishops Conferences to set up social desks and centres to support victims of human trafficking and open up legal referral pathways for victims.
  • Lobby the Government to support centres financially and in-kind that support vulnerable groups and not just to leave the burden to the institutions to support the individuals that are also referred by the different government offices.
  • Create a rapport and use the systems to push the Government and other stakeholders to act.
  • The Church to escalate campaigns using drama, poetry and music
  • Translate the pastoral document (POHT) into local languages
  • Engage county commanders to unveil and bring to light cases of human trafficking
  • Engage national and regional governments to enact laws to curb human trafficking
  • Strengthen networks founded in the 2nd African Regional Conference of The Santa Marta
  • At the next Santa Marta Conference, each bishops conference to issue a progress report on their achievement in the fight against human trafficking.

We are stronger when we stand together. “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)

The next African Regional Conference will take place in South Africa 11-13 November 2019.

For more information about the Conference visit Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops website.