2022 Assembly


COMECE Dialogue Seminar: Fighting against Trafficking in Human Beings


The Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community – COMECE – held an evening dialogue seminar on Wednesday, 26th November, 2014 at which RENATE representatives were present.
The topic of debate was ”Fighting against Trafficking in Human Beings: a Joint Effort”.  The key presenters were Sr. Eugenia Bonetti, President of Slaves No More & winner of the European Citizen Prize, 2013; Dr. Aidan McQuade, Director Anti-Slavery International & Ms. Annie Morris, Counter Trafficking and Training Focal Point for the International Organisation for Migration.
The substance of the three presentations was the extent to which we as citizens, need to take more action to heighten peoples’ awareness of human trafficking, how it begins, where it is manifest and what measures need to be taken to stop this crime against the dignity of the human person.
A critical consideration by Dr. McQuade was that NGO’s and governmental institutions are misplaced in their focus on actual victims, when instead his fundamental tenet proposes that we would be better placing our attention on prevention in the first place.
Sr. Bonetti passionately drew from her life-time of experiences working in the area of human trafficking and she repeatedly called upon all present to collaborate together to create a powerful force working against such evil. A particular concern is with those who are held in detention centres,  without any supports or possibilities of a future, as a result of the complicated legal frameworks around migration and asylum.

Mrs. Ivonne van de Kar and Sr. Eugenia Bonetti at COMECE Debate in Brussels, 26th December 2014
Mrs. Ivonne van de Kar and Sr. Eugenia Bonetti at COMECE Debate in Brussels, 26th November 2014

Ms. Morris illustrated the projects of the Counter Trafficking and International Organisation for Migration in the UK, which focused on practical considerations when assisting migrants.
One of the main messages from the evening was the urgency of need for the European Union to implement the existing legal framework and to deepen cooperation with civil society and faith-based organisations which work with victims at grassroots level.
Extensive experiences in advocacy and policy formation informed the conversations, with a call for greater protection of victims of human trafficking, through more pro-active implementation of existing legislation. The evening also lent strength to the call for constant updating of data and legislation itself, to cater for the new forms of human trafficking such as for reproductive purposes, organ removal and illegal adoption.
The need for ongoing financial support of civil society and church organisations was emphasised.
The evening was a wonderful opportunity to network and share in the dialogue amongst faith-based organisations.
Some questions were posed to the accuracy of the numbers of victims mentioned. While it is almost impossible to find exact numbers. Dr. Mc Quade referred to the ILO studies that are likely to give  the most accurate numbers.
In response to the complexity and seriousness of the concerns and issues raised during the evening, in the coming weeks COMECE intends to provide the European Union Commission with a compilation of their proposals and recommendations to fight human trafficking.
Sr. Eugenia Bonetti and Sr. Marie Helene Halligon at COMECE Debate in Brussels, 26th December 2014
Sr. Eugenia Bonetti and Sr. Marie Helene Halligon at COMECE Debate in Brussels, 26th November 2014

* Sr. Eugenia represents the Anti-Trafficking desk at the Italian Conference of Women religious.  At a practical level, Sr. Bonetti has organised to have over 200 shelters based in the houses of religious congregations in Italy and every Saturday, she accompanies her sisters in visitation of trafficked women who are now housed in detention centres in Rome, awaiting processing.
Anne Kelleher
RENATE Communications Person
Useful links:
COMECE_official summary of the evening debate_26th Nov 2014_Brussels
Recordings of Fr. Patrick H. Daly, Sr. Eugenia Bonetti MC, Dr Aidan McQuade, Annie Morris, José Luis Bazán.