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Anti-Trafficking efforts/Vatican

Anti-Trafficking Efforts Need to Focus on “Beneficiaries”
Vatican Urges Keeping Human Rights at Center of Strategies
VIENNA, Austria, FEB. 14, 2008 ( ).-To combat human trafficking, attention needs to be given to those who demand or benefit from it, said a Vatican official.Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, affirmed this at the Vienna Forum to Fight Human Trafficking, which ends Friday.”

The Holy See appreciates the efforts undertaken at various levels to combat human trafficking, which is a multidimensional problem, and one of the most shameful phenomena of our era,” he said. “It is well known that poverty, as well as the lack of opportunities and of social cohesion, push people to look for a better future despite the related risks, making them extremely vulnerable to trafficking.

Moreover, it should be emphasized that, nowadays, several factors contribute to the spread of this crime, namely, the absence of specific rules in some countries, the victims’ ignorance of their own rights, the sociocultural structure and armed conflicts.”The archbishop said that all strategies to combat human trafficking and to protect victims should but human rights at the center.The prelate also stressed that “the demand side” of human trafficking needs to be addressed, that is, in sexual exploitation, “‘customers’ — ordinary men: young men, husbands and fathers”; and in other forms of trafficking, “for example, illicit forms of subcontracting activities that profit from exploitative labor conditions.”

Archbishop Marchetto noted how local bishops’ conferences have taken up the problem of trafficking in their respective geographical areas.”This has resulted in a direct involvement of Catholic organizations and institutions in various countries in assisting the victims, which includes listening to them, providing them with necessary assistance and support to escape from sexual violence, creating safe houses, promoting counseling geared towards reintegration into society or helping them to return in a sustainable way to their homelands and sponsoring prevention and awareness raising activities,” he noted.

Complex issues
Archbishop Marchetto acknowledged that “easy solutions do not exist” for the problem of human trafficking.”Addressing these particular human rights’ abuses requires a coherent and integral approach,” he said.

The 67-year-old prelate continued: “This should take into account not only the best interests of the victim, but also the just punishment of those who benefit from it, and the introduction of preventive measures such as, on the one hand, awareness- and consciousness-raising and, on the other, addressing the root causes of the phenomenon, among which the macroeconomic situation certainly should not be overlooked.”Among other things, a coherent and integral approach should also promote the integration of the victims, especially those who collaborate against the traffickers, which includes medical care and psychosocial counseling, accommodation, residence permits and access to employment. It also means the return to the homeland, which may be accompanied by micro projects and/or loans, thus ensuring that victims do not return to the same harmful environment.”

In addition, measures could be introduced for the creation of compensation schemes. These could be financed by the confiscation of the profits and the assets gained by the traffickers through their criminal activities.In any case, Archbishop Marchetto concluded, efforts to combat human trafficking are key for the whole of society. “As Pope Benedict XVI stated in his recent encyclical on hope,” he said, “‘The true measure of humanity is essentially determined in relationship to suffering and to the sufferer. This holds true both for the individual and for society.'”

Filed under: Migration, Social Justice

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