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2022 Assembly

 

Report from the CODE Red Human Trafficking Awareness Conference

 

Sr. Margaret Gonzi, RGS, RENATE Member, reports on her presentation and attendance at the June 12th, 2015 CODE Red International Conference on Human Trafficking Awareness in Malta, entitled “Now or Never – Act of Love”
The Conference is the initiative of Mr Alec Douglas Bvumburah, the founder of the Cross Culture International Foundation Malta (CCIF).
There is not much talk in Malta about Human Trafficking. So I was pleased that this conference took place. The fact that the Acting President of Malta, Ms. Dolores Cristina, opened the Conference showed the importance of tackling this issue.
I am glad that I was invited to contribute by giving a presentation on, “What the Church is doing to stop the evil done by Human Trafficking.” I focused on Pope Francis’ plea to work together to end this evil and following on from this, I talked about RENATE and how this Foundation operates to bring people together, as well as its mission based on Gospel values. I included the work done by my Congregation, The Good Shepherd Sisters, in addition to various other organizations in Malta such as the Jesuit Refugee Services Malta, Caritas and the Diocesan Emigrants` Commission.
Other speakers spoke on “Child Trafficking from a Maltese Perspective” where specialized training to help child victims was emphasized. A Police Inspector spoke on “Human Trafficking from a policing viewpoint and additional work to be done.” While a University of Malta Law student spoke on “The National Action Plan.” A representative from The Ministry for Home Affairs and National Security spoke on “Progress made in the fight against Human Trafficking in Malta and the way forward”. In this talk the importance of research and compiling statistics was emphasized.
The Conference ended on a positive note with the commitment of all present, to help combat human trafficking.
Agenda of CODE Red Human Trafficking Awareness Conference in Malta
 
Adapted by Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications Person.

CODE Red Human Trafficking Awareness Conference in Malta

 

CODE Red Human Trafficking Awareness Conference in Malta“Now or Never Act of Love”
Cross Culture International Foundation Malta (CCIF) is a non-profit making foundation set up in Malta in June 2012, to enhance international understanding and friendship through education, networking, volunteering, exchanging cultural programs, ideas and experiences directly among peoples of different countries and diverse cultures.
CCIF is involved in a number of initiatives and activities in Malta aimed at making a difference in the local communities. One such important initative is the fight to end human trafficking. CCIF through the initiative called ProjectStop is holding a free full day conference on the 12th June 2015, refreshments and lunch will be served.
Date: Friday, 12th June, 2015
Time: 09:00 — 17:00
Venue: Conference Hall, Malta University Residence, Triq Robert Mifsud Bonnice, Fial Lija, Malta
Click here to read the official CODE Red Conference Flyer
To register for this conference please book online through Eventbrite http://goo.gl/AI7Srm
 
 
 

Report from the Conference organised by ANDANTE in Riga, Latvia

 

ANDANTE – European Alliance of Catholic Women’s Organisations

Conference in Riga, Latvia, 3rd-5th October, 2014

Conference Theme: Poverty

Pope Francis opened the Synod of Bishops on the Family, 5th October, 2014, Rome, with these words:

“…Because we must say everything we feel we need to say, in the spirit of the Lord, without pusillanimity and without fear. At the same time, we must listen humbly and embrace with an open heart what our brothers are telling us…I can ask you please to adopt these two fraternal attitudes, in the name of the Lord: to feel with parresia and listen humbly…”

These words and sentiments describe best the atmosphere and culture which prevailed throughout the ANDANTE Conference in Riga, in the days prior to the Synod.
The Conference focused on how the Andante member organisations are taking actions to address and combat poverty in their own countries as well as through collaborations with partners in other European countries. More than fifty delegates attended.
Mrs. Anna Zaborska, in her keynote address, spoke of the many understandings of the term ‘poverty,’ presenting both the worldwide and European perspectives. She concluded with the stark fact that despite years of unprecedented global economic growth, poverty is on the rise.
Mrs Zaborska urged listeners to understand the concept of ‘family’ in contemporary times; to see the importance of the family unit as central to society. At the same time she drew attention to the disintegration of the family unit as having a direct impact on poverty.
Following her address, conversations with frank and open dialogue took place. These were the ‘hallmarks’ of the gathering. Shared belief was simply, that everyone must do the best one can do one’s own particular circumstances.
Different approaches to addressing poverty-related matters were presented by representatives of three ANDANTE member organisations; Gretta’s story from Riga; The National Board of Catholic Women, from the United Kingdom and Mary Ward Loreto with RENATE. This led to lively discussion exchange of impressions and responses.
The situation in the host country Latvia, was presented by a Gretta who has struggled personally to overcome poverty and now works to help others in similar need. She founded Martin’s House, which offers shelter and support to homeless mothers. Gretta spoke of the desperate situation for so many unemployed who become homeless due to the downturn in the economy.
The ‘National Board of Catholic Women’ in the UK shared some poverty consciousness-raising projects in the UK. Their focus was on social responsibility and the power of working through networks such as CARITAS, and ‘The Women at the Well’ was much appreciated. The conclusion was that we need more women to be politically engaged, to be vocal and advocates for Catholic Social Teaching.
Mary Ward Loreto (MWL) and RENATE presented their work to combat Human Trafficking. This struck a chord with those present and gave rise to requests for membership of RENATE. This is a welcome development!
Representatives gave brief presentations on their own countries’ various activities. These included awareness-raising ‘fasting’ days; fund-raising initiatives, like candle sales distribution through parishes in Austria; voluntary telephone emergency services in Holland; as well as work with prisoners; the provision of food-banks through to the ‘Today a Reader; Tomorrow a Leader’ initiative in Germany.
One of ANDANTE’S long-term goals is to seek to be heard in the political arena. It works hard to be respected and regarded as a voice of women at the Council of Europe, as well as other political and Church bodies throughout Europe. This is already being achieved as the Conference proceedings will be ‘fed into’ future meetings of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).
Solidarity was saluted as a common value to celebrate and accentuate what we have in common instead of focusing on our differences. As ANDANTE grows and widens its impact, its immediate task is to identify the extent of other Catholic Women’s Organisations throughout Europe. A project to achieve this scope is likely to begin in the New Year. The final days of the Conference were spent discerning ways forward in this regard.
RENATE congratulates the ANDANTE Conference organisers for all their good work! It gives special mention to the President, Dr Mary McHugh, for her energetic leadership and commitment to encouraging each member-organisation to work together to address issues of poverty.
For further information about Andante, please see www.andante-europa.net
Text by Anne Kelleher, RENATE Communications Person

ANDANTE Conference in Riga, Latvia, 3rd-5th October 2014
ANDANTE Conference in Riga, Latvia, 3rd-5th October 2014

ANDANTE Conference in Latvia, Riga, 3rd – 5th October 2014

 

RENATE is honoured to have been invited to make a presentation at the forthcoming Andante Conference in Riga, where the main theme will be Poverty as a driver for Human Trafficking in Europe.
Founded in 2006, Andante is a European alliance of Catholic women’s organisations, comprising approximately twenty two women’s organisations throughout Europe.
We look forward to networking and strengthening our capacities to combat Human Trafficking.

Putting Victims First: Conference on Protecting and Promoting the Rights of Victims of Trafficking

 

Poland, Warsaw, 26-27 November 2013

Four members of RENATE attended a conference organised by the Ministry of Interior of Poland, the Governments of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, the Council of Europe, and the International Organization for Migration. The aim of this conference was to provide a platform for the exchange of knowledge and best practices as regards protection of the rights of victims of trafficking in line in with the second “P” (protection) of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings.

Conference in Warsaw, Poland, 26-27 November 2013
Putting Victims First, Conference in Warsaw, Poland, 26-27 November 2013

Clear and consistent protection of the rights of victims of trafficking in human beings is essential. The Council of Europe Convention sets specific rights including emergency assistance, safe accommodation, compensation, legal redress and rehabilitation. About 200 participants from 35 countries discussed the substantive content of these measures. In this regard, the discussions were focused on four related themes:
 
Identification of victims of trafficking with a specific focus on labour exploitation
Human trafficking occurs where there is a possibility for financial gain through the exploitation of persons for work. It takes various forms and victims may be found in many different sectors and activities. Even if over time there have been advances in the development of procedures for identification of victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation, there is relatively less experience with regard to identification of victims of trafficking for labour exploitation. Hence, one challenge rests in ensuring that representatives of institutions whose jobs involve contact with persons who may be trafficking victims have the expertise necessary to detect risk factors and refer this information to those competent to formally identify victims. Identification helps to prevent further exploitation and ensures that the victims are informed of their rights and can be referred to an appropriate specialized agency for further assistance.
Taking these considerations as the starting point, the discussion focused, among others, on:

  • The importance of formalised procedures for the identification of victims of trafficking;
  • The benefits of multidisciplinary approach to identification.

 
Standards of safe accommodation for victims of trafficking
One of the first steps to be taken in respect of victims wishing to escape from the control of traffickers is to provide a safe and secure shelter. Despite the prospect of continued abuse, many victims decide to stay with the traffickers because leaving can involve more danger and greater vulnerability. The lack of appropriate accommodation often results in victims returning to their abusers after an initial escape,. It is therefore crucial that real and practical options for safety and security are made available to different categories of victims of trafficking. Each victim is unique and requires and desires bespoke assistance.
The discussion focused on:.

  • The importance of shelter accommodation not being made conditional on the victims’ willingness to act as a witness or being linked to the duration of the criminal proceedings;
  • The importance of clear legal basis on which victims of trafficking can invoke protection and assistance;
  • Striking a balance between the need to protect victims and the respect for the victims’ rights and privacy.

 
Legal redress and compensation
A human rights-based approach puts the human rights of trafficked persons at the centre of all efforts to prevent and combat trafficking and to protect, assist and provide redress to victims. It also entails the effective prosecution of traffickers, putting the emphasis on the right to effective remedy for the victim. The Council of Europe Convention provides for the right of victims of trafficking to compensation from the perpetrators as well as compensation from the State. However currently, the challenge rests in the procedures that provide trafficked persons to receive redress and compensation in a holistic manner, but are only provided with ad hoc measures which are primarily aimed at facilitating criminal investigation. At present, even when there are possibilities in law for granting compensation to victims, in practice this right remains theoretical and few victims benefit from compensation schemes.
Taking these considerations as the starting point, the discussion focused on:

  • Access to legal assistance and free legal aid;
  • The importance of having different avenues for claiming compensation (both from the perpetrator and the State);
  • Building the capacity of relevant professionals to enable victims to benefit from the legal possibilities to claim compensations;
  • Guaranteeing the right to compensation across border (portable justice).

 
Ensuring victims’ rehabilitation and safe return
When it comes to discussing long-term solutions with the victims of human trafficking there are different options that should be made available to them: integration, move to another country in which the victim has a residence permit, return to the country of origin. All alternatives should be in principal equally accessible and valid to them.
Some victims of human trafficking might be vitally interested in returning home. The Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration programme offers them such a possibility. Such services are always based on victims’ informed consent and are extended only to those who have freely chosen to return home. Yet, return of the victim of human trafficking to the country or community of origin is not always the optimal solution. While considering return, all possible threats related to becoming victimised a second option should be always taken into account. Victims who express an inability or unwillingness to return should be offered alternative, safe and efficient options. Whatever alternative is considered, it should be analysed together with a risk analysis and, if necessary, a risk-management plan. In this regard mainstream social services and labour market also has a role to play. These challenges were addressed during the discussion.

  • Co-operation between countries of destination and countries of origin in order to ensure proper risk assessment and safe return, as well as effective reintegration of victims.

 
Full description including conference materials can be found here: Putting Victims First The summary of the discussions will be available in English, Russian and Polish at the conference website www.victimsfirst.pl at the beginning of next year.