Cops and Clergy Working Together – Fight Against Human Trafficking

Press conference organized by Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations entitled “Cops and Clergy Working together: The Work of the Santa Marta Group in the Fight against Human Trafficking Worldwide”.

The President of the Santa Marta Group, Cardinal Vincent Nickols, said there was no nation which “isn’t both a nation of origin from which people are trafficked, and a nation of destination to which people are trafficked” adding that “none of us are outside of the loop.”

The Santa Marta group is an alliance between the Catholic Church and law enforcement officials which gets its name from the Papal residence where the first meeting was formed in an effort to create partnerships in developing strategies to combat as well as prevent human trafficking from happening at the source.

Speaking at a press conference in in New York, Cardinal Nickols said the Santa Marta group was growing both in membership and in efficiency. He said the groups plans on taking root in a number of region to combat human trafficking and modern slavery. He stressed that trust and honesty were crucial for the alliance to work.

Cardinal Vincent Nickols, Archbishop of Westminster, United Kingdom, President of the Santa Marta Group:
“In London that trust, its first step, was to have a clear undertaking from the metropolitan police, through Kevin in his previous job, was that victims will be treated as victims and not as criminals. And its only when that principle is established, then you get to the point which we had arrived at in some cases in London, where victims, welcomed, helped, healed to some extent, can then testify against their traffickers.”

Cardinal Nickols said many people believe that human trafficking is a “distant problem” however he stressed that there was no country that was not both a country of destination and origin for human trafficking. He added, “This is everywhere, and none of us are outside of the loop.”

The UK’s Anti-Slavery Commissioner Kevin Hyland said an estimated 40 million people worldwide were subjected to some form of modern slavery bringing in some 150 billion USD in profits. He stressed the need to ensure that “no business in the world actually thrives on human trafficking or modern slavery.” He added, “For example, the mobile phones we have in our pockets will be powered by coltan which may have been mined in the Congo by children as young as four; no business should have that in its supply chain.”

Hyland said human trafficking must be recognized as a crime with human suffering, but also about development. He added, “This is about development because is it about health; because people who are trafficked are more likely to contract HIV and other diseases; it’s about equality because where there is poverty and where people don’t have rights, it is more likely to happen; and it’s gender because we know that those who are trafficked, 72 percent are women or girls; and also for those who are trafficked for exploitation it goes up to the mid-90’s; so it’s a gender issue.” Hyland emphasized the need to use the sustainable development goals to address human trafficking, “because we need to take away the power of the traffickers; because people are leaving parts of the world because there is no opportunity; we need to give them opportunity where they are, make their communities safe, [and] give them chances to work.”

Source: UNTV / UNifeed


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