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2022 Assembly

 

Report from the Vatican Workshop

 

Trafficking in Human Beings: Modern Slavery.

Destitute Peoples and the Message of Jesus Christ.

2nd – 3rd November 2013 Casino Pio IV (Vatican City)

The initiative for this awareness raising workshop on Trafficking in Human Persons was taken by Pope Francis who called on the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences together with the FIAMC (The World Federation of Catholic Medical Associations) to organise, in this initial stage, a preparatory workshop.  This workshop examined human trafficking and modern slavery in order to establish the real state of this phenomenon and to follow an agenda to combat this heinous crime. The overall coordinator was Very Reverend Marcel Sanchez Sorondo who worked painlessly to keep each person attending the workshop in constant communication with all necessary information before the event. We thank him for the acceptance of our application and for his extraordinary care to the detail in every manner required.

Vatican, Nov. 2013
The Assembled Group meeting with Pope Francis

Approximately 100 people attended this event of whom 20 presented papers and represented the organisations mentioned above, whilst the others had registered as observers. It was encouraging to know that on arriving at the assembly room, all observers were called participants, all had a voice and all had the opportunity to submit proposals for the conclusion of the days together.
Three members of RENATE attended this workshop, Sr Marie Hélène Halligon, (Good Shepherd – Paris), Sr Patricia Mulhall, (Brigidine – UK), and Sr Imelda Poole (IBVM – Albania). The ‘observers’ were mainly from grassroots non-profit organisations, NGOs or mission groups, working in the field of anti-trafficking, representing a variety of organisations such as social services, the police, law and the justice system, people working in shelters (safe houses) in direct action with victims. Among them were Members of Parliament desiring to make changes in the law, on the side of the victim, NGOs working in the field, and bishops and clergy from the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches.
Every continent in the world was included and all continents reflected on their experiences of trafficking in human persons within their own cultural differences.  It really exposed the manner in which traffickers are sharp in using conditions of poverty, the ‘culture’ of vulnerability and weaknesses in the law are prevalent, thereby enabling the exploitation and trafficking of people to maximum effect.
Many statistics were shared regarding the extent of this evil. Many millions have been identified as trafficked in the EU yet the number of victims declared as trafficked in the courts had fallen in the recent past by 32%.  The issue of corruption was explored both at the level of government and within other statutory systems. Global poverty and a breakdown of values were seen to be the root causes for the increase in the trafficking in human persons.  Many of the vulnerable succumbed to the deceits of traffickers with promises of ‘a way out’ of poverty, leading to a better life for their families and for themselves.
The conference reflected on the phenomena of migration and movements of peoples around the globe, which has reached momentous proportions and which is truly historic in this 21st century. Globalisation and the issues of cross border protection laws are impacting on the journey taken by the migrant.  The migrant is also suffering from a global culture that rejects the migrant and which has lost the concept that all people are made equal and all are created in the image of God. The ‘commodification’ of the human person has forced the migrant person into the underworld of the illegal market and often into the hands of traffickers. In addition, the secularisation of many societies and the challenge for the people on the edge of society, facing an inhuman and undignified life has created an ambience ripe for the traffickers to be successful in their trade. The change in the numbers living below the poverty line plus this explosion of secularisation in many countries has led to a growth in the culture of individualism. This culture has replaced a fair and just society which emphasises care of the vulnerable and which puts the community at its heart.  The belief that we have a global crisis of values was discussed at length. Many would see this as being one of the prime reasons for the growing phenomena of human trafficking today.
Many questions were asked, including: Where do we stand in the midst of this evil practice?  Are we on the side of the victim?  Do we look for compensation for the victim?  Has every country, including the Vatican State, signed the European Convention Against trafficking?  How do we view the immigrant? Are we aware that the only way forward is to build partnerships to combat this crime? Are we in partnership with others in the field, networking with them or are we working in isolation?  Are illegal employment agencies operating in our vicinity?  Who is making checks and who cares about the exploitation of the migrant worker? What about the question of ‘Demand’ – the engine that fuels the ‘supply’ of people who can be easily exploited and manipulated into the ‘trade in human persons’ (to use Pope Francis’ words)? The trafficking in organs was also an important issue discussed during these two days.
Several organisations were represented and some shared the fruit of their work in prevention or direct action against trafficking.  Two examples of organisations attending the conference DNA Prokids and Walk Free Foundation gave input on their work
DNA-Prokids (http://www.dna-prokids.org), an international project on human trafficking prevention and fight using genetic identification of victims and their relatives. DNA testing ensures ‘lost’ children can be reunited with their families and taken out of ‘risk’ of being stolen or adopted for profit. One case story from ProKids related to Haiti at the time of the Earthquake in 2010. Twenty-five children told their parents had perished in the Earthquake, were stolen from the Haiti, taken by bus and found in Columbia. Of the twenty-five, 18 were reunited with their families. The remaining 7 children, whose parents could not be traced, were given legal protection by the Columbian government to be adopted by Columbian families.
The ‘Walk Free Foundation’ launched in 2012, Perth, Western Australia, is making a scientific analysis of those trafficked, the countries from which they are trafficked, the routes they take and the destinations they reach in ‘The Gobal Slavery Index 2013’. This document was made available to the conference. Their website encourages joining in a world-wide campaign to end modern day slavery. Over a million have joined to date. (cf websites for both organisations)
Professor Suarez-Orozco (University of Los Angeles, California) presented a paper examining the devastating psychological and cultural effects on trafficked children who are deprived not only of their present, but also of their future as many of them do not have the mental, physical or psychological means to overcome such trials. Describing the phenomenon of human trafficking, Suarez-Oroaco said it amounts to a $30 billion enterprise – larger than the GDP of Jordan.    It is the third-most profitable global criminal enterprise, after drugs and armaments. The professor highlighted the fact that up to 75 per cent of all detected trafficked people are women and children. (an estimated 27 million trafficked people in the world today) He noted that the percentage of children is increasing, saying: “In the U.S., it is estimated that of all the detected trafficked people, 50 per cent are under age.”
(http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/11/05/human_trafficking:_an_ancient_infamy_with_a_new_face/en1-742628  of the Vatican Radio website).
Vatican, Nov. 2013
Sr Marie Hélène Halligon, presenting the Mosaic to Pope Francis

An added privilege during the weekend was meeting with Pope Francis – the lead person for this event. Sr  Marie Hélène Halligon had bought with her a mosaic made by girls who were trafficked in Paris. She presented this mosaic to Pope Francis. Sr Patricia Mulhall and Sr Imelda Poole also had the privilege of meeting Pope Francis and asked for his blessing on the work of RENATE.
Vatican, Nov. 2013
Sr Imelda Poole giving greetings from RENATE with Sr Patricia Mulhall in the background

Several proposals were submitted at the end of this workshop and all were collated into one single document. This document was accepted by the participants. No proposal was omitted.  The conclusion reached was that all proposals should be submitted to Pope Francis as an outcome of the workshop with an introductory paragraph to be written after the workshop had been concluded. This paragraph would be agreed by the participants of the conference before submission. The workshop closed on Sunday evening, 3rd November. The networking achieved by the members of RENATE is still having effect as we return to our various countries of work. We feel very grateful that we were welcomed into this forum.
Marie Hélène Halligon (Good Shepherd), Patricia Mulhall (Brigidine), Imelda Poole (IBVM)
 

Support the Campaign against Human Trafficking

 

Patricia Mulhall_ICN
STOP Human Trafficking

This Friday, 18 October is European Anti-Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Sister Patricia Mulhall, csb invites readers to pray and take part in a number of actions to support the campaign. She writes:
Worldwide, 27 million adults and 13 million children are victims of human trafficking around our world. Although human trafficking is often the ‘invisible’ international crime of the 21st century and accurate statistics are difficult to acquire, researchers estimate that more than 80% of victims are female. Their stories tell of abuse, devastating physical, emotional and psychological harm. This crime is a fundamental violation of human rights, tantamount to slavery. Victims are lured with false promises of well-paid work. Often instead, their passports or identification papers are confiscated and they are held in forced bondage. Due to language barriers, lack of knowledge about available services, and the frequency with which their traffickers move them, both they and their perpetrators are difficult to track.
An estimated $32billion is generated from human trafficking every year. Little wonder it is a ‘thriving’ trade in the exploitation of vulnerable human persons.
Read more on ICN – Independent Catholic News.

Human trafficking measures welcomed

 

17th September 2013 – the Galloway Gazette news reports
 
“MSP Claudia Beamish and MP Russell Brown have welcomed a consultation on proposals to crack down on human trafficking and have highlighted the need to ensure that the port at Cairnryan does not offer a route for traffickers to bring people into Scotland against their will.” Read more on this human trafficking story

Morality in Media Urging Hilton to Follow Example

 

Hilton-Hotel-Arlington-Flickr
Will Hilton follow the example set by The Nordic Choice and Omni Hotels and Resorts, who have stopped selling pornography? (Bernt Rostad/Flickr/Creative Commons)

Morality in Media praises Scandinavian hotel chain The Nordic Choice, which announced the end of pornography in their 171 locations to stem child sex trafficking and sexual exploitation.
Petter Stordalen, owner of The Nordic Choice hotel chain, decided to act after working with Unicef’s campaign to help child victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation.
“The porn industry contributes to trafficking, so I see it as a natural part of having a social responsibility to send out a clear signal that Nordic Hotels doesn’t support or condone this,” Stordalen explains.
MIM Executive Director Dawn Hawkins says all U.S. hotel chains should follow suit.
“We urge Hilton to look at the reasons The Nordic Choice, and other chains such as Omni Hotels and Resorts, have stopped selling pornography,” Hawkins says. “Do they really want to be in the business of contributing to trafficking and sexual exploitation?”
 
Read more here: Morality in Media Urging Hilton to Follow Example
Source: http://www.charismanews.com

Scandinavian hotel chain removes porn from its TVs, replaces with art channels

 

Petter_Stordalen_2009-06-03_(bilde_05)
Petter Stordalen, owner of Nordic Choice hotels

OSLO, August 27, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – One of Norway’s major hotel chains has removed access to pay-TV porn and replaced it with contemporary art channels.
Petter Stordalen, owner of Nordic Choice hotels, said he will remove access to pornography in all of his establishments in favor of providing access to high-end contemporary art, according to aGuardian report.

Stordalen said he came to the decision after becoming involved in campaigns aimed at stopping human trafficking and sexual exploitation of children, which is fuelled by pornography.
“The porn industry contributes to trafficking, so I see it as a natural part of having a social responsibility to send out a clear signal that Nordic Hotels doesn’t support or condone this,” Stordalen said.
“It may sound shocking or unusual [to remove pay-TV porn], but everyone said that about the ban on smoking. We were the first hotel chain in the world to ban smoking and people thought we were crazy. Now it’s totally normal for public spaces to be smoke-free,” he added.
A spokesman from the chain’s flagship hotel in Oslo, The Thief, said that reaction to the no-porn rule has been positive.
 
Read more here: Scandinavian hotel chain removes porn from its TVs
Source: http://www.lifesitenews.com

Pope Francis : "HumanTrafficking is shameful for our society that calls itself civilised"

 

Pope Francis on Friday received and addressed, in the Clementine Hall at the Vatican, a group of people who have been taking part in the plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant people. The meeting in Rome has looked at the issue of “The Church’s Pastoral Care in the Context of Forced Migration”. And in his address Pope Francis spoke of the trafficking of persons as a shameful activity and a disgrace to our society that calls itself ‘civilized’.” Exploiters and clients at all levels should make a serious examination of conscience, within themselves and before God!” said the Holy Father.
Pope Francis Human Trafficking
 
Below is a full text of the Holy Father’s address
 
Vatican City, 24 May 2013 (VIS) – “The trafficking of persons is an ignoble activity, a disgrace to our society that calls itself ‘civilized’! Exploiters and clients at all levels should make a serious examination of conscience, within themselves and before God!” These were the Pope’s words to the participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, gathered in Rome to discuss the issue of “The Church’s Pastoral Care in the Context of Forced Migration”.
The assembly coincides with the publication of the document: “Welcoming Christ in Refugees and Persons Displaced by Force”, which calls attention to the millions of refugees, displaced, and stateless persons. It also addresses the scourge of human trafficking, which more and more frequently affects children who suffer the worst forms of abuse, including being forced into armed conflicts.
“Today,” the pontiff exclaimed, “the Church renews her strong call that the dignity and centrality of each person be always protected, in respect of fundamental rights … rights that she asks be concretely extended to the millions of men and women in every continent whose rights are not recognized. In a world where there is so much talk of rights it seems that the only one to have rights is money. … We are living in a world ruled by money. We live in a world, in a culture ruled by the fetishism of money.” In this context, the Pope noted that the dicastery responsible for the pastoral care of migrants and itinerant people is very worried by “situations where the family of nations is called to intervene in a spirit of fraternal solidarity with programmes of protection, often established against the backdrop of tragic events that almost daily are affecting the lives of many people. I express my appreciation and my gratitude and encourage you to continue along the path of service to our poorest and most marginalized brothers and sisters.”
The attention of the Church, who is “mother”, is expressed “with special tenderness and closeness for those forced to flee their country and live in-between rootlessness and integration. This tension destroys a person. Christian compassion—this ‘suffering with’ [con-passione]—is expressed above all in the commitment to know about the events that force one to leave their country and, where necessary, in giving voice to those who are unable to make their cry of sorrow and oppression heard. In this,” he said to the assembly’s participants, “you carry out an important task, as well as in making the Christian communities aware of their many brothers and sisters who are marked by wounds that scar their existence: violence, abuse of power, distance from family, traumatic events, flight from home, and uncertainty about their future in refugee camps. These are all dehumanizing elements and they must compel every Christian and the entire community to a concrete attention.”
However, the Holy Father also invited them to also see in the eyes of refugees and forcibly displaced persons ”the light of hope. It is a hope that is expressed in expectation for the future, the desire for friendly relationships, the desire to participate in the society that is hosting them, even through language learning, access to employment, and education for the youngest. I admire the courage of those who hope to gradually resume a normal life, awaiting joy and love to return and lighten their existence. We all can and must nurture that hope!”
Finally, the Pope launched an appeal to governments, legislators, and the entire international community to face the reality of forcibly displaced persons “with effective initiatives and new approaches to safeguard their dignity, to improve the quality of their lives, and to meet the challenges that emerge from modern forms of persecution, oppression, and slavery. It is, I emphasize, human persons who appeal to the solidarity and support, who need urgent measures, but also and above all who need understanding and goodness. Their condition cannot leave us indifferent.”
“As Church,” he concluded, “we remember that when we heal the wounds of refugees, displaced persons, and victims of trafficking, we are practising the commandment of love that Jesus has left us; when we identify with the stranger, with those who are suffering, with all the innocent victims of violence and exploitation. … Here I would also like to recall the care that every pastor and Christian community must have for the journey of faith of Christian refugees and those forcibly uprooted from their lives, as well as for that of Christian emigrants. They require special pastoral care that respects their traditions and accompanies them in a harmonious integration into the ecclesial reality in which they find themselves. Let us not forget the flesh of Christ, who is in the flesh of the refugees. Their flesh is that of Christ.”
 
You can find more from the Vatican Information Service
V.I.S. -Vatican Information Service.
Text from page The Vatican information Service news article 25th May
of the Vatican Radio website