The Vatican and COATNET team up against human trafficking
(Vatican Radio) The Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant Peoples has teamed up with COATNET in the fight against human trafficking.
Council President, Cardinal Antonio Maria Vegliò, and Caritas Secretary General, Michel Roy, on Wednesday presented a “Christian Commitment Paper” on human trafficking which raises awareness in Episcopal Conferences and Church organizations and provides guidelines in the fight against the global slave trade that affects thousands of people.
Linking together many Christian groups which are fighting human trafficking, COATNET (Christian Organizations Against Trafficking in Human Beings) aims to raise public awareness about the phenomenon; fight the root causes of vulnerability; advocate for policies to reduce the vulnerability of people to trafficking; advocate for better anti-trafficking laws; cooperate with authorities, churches and civil society to challenge human trafficking; restore dignity to survivors.
The Paper comes at moment of increasing momentum within the Church – pioneered by Pope Francis – to challenge this form of slavery which the Pope has described as a crime against humanity.
One of those in the front lines and behind the paper is Caritas Internationalis International Policy Director Martina Liebsch who says COATNET had already drawn up a Commitment Paper in 2005 calling for engagement against trafficking, however she says “that document was starting to become outdated” and the new Paper is the result of vaster experience within the area and contains guidelines that are more easily applicable.
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“The document is a call to explain what trafficking is, what is behind trafficking but also what can be done by Caritas organizations, other charitable organizations and also by the Church hierarchy” Liebsch says.
Liebsch explains that the document gives some concrete advice on what the Church can do in terms of prevention and sensitization, in terms of assistance to people, in terms of advocacy and in terms of networking.
“We know that we can’t fight this crime alone” she says.
Liebsch says that although sister organizations propel a vast number of activities against this growing form of modern slavery, there is still little cooperation.
She says the second part of the document focusses on how to get things going and on how to approach the issue if you realize there may be a trafficked person in your community, in your parish, in your village – “what can you do to start?”
The document – she says – concludes with some practices which are helpful for the victims in regaining their lives and their dignity.
The full text of the document can be found on the COATNET webpage.
Liebsch also speaks of a video realized in collaboration with the American Embassy to the Holy See which shows that “trafficking has many faces, has many dimensions, it’s not only used for sexual exploitation but also for labour exploitation and through its images it shows that it is often an invisible or difficultly identifiable phenomenon”.
The video will also be available for viweing shortly on the COATNET webpage.
Liebsch says that COATNET is very happy that Pope Francis has taken up the initiative to promote several events highlighting the fact that fighting human trafficking is also a duty of the Church that must “look at it and work against it”.
“This really encouraged us to reach out beyond our network and say: let’s open this commitment which can speak to a person in the hierarchy but can also speak to a person in a parish or in a community” she says.