31-October-2013 -- Vatican Information Service |

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SEMINAR IN THE VATICAN ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING

Vatican City, 31 October 2013 (VIS) - "Trafficking in human beings: modern slavery. Destitute peoples and the message of Jesus Christ" is the title of the seminar which, following a wish expressed by Pope Francis, has been organised by the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and of the Social Sciences, together with the FIAMC (the World Federation of Catholic Medical Associations). The seminar, which will take place from 2 to 3 November in the Vatican's Casina Pio IV, will be attended by twenty-two participants from various countries and international organisations, including the Nigerian Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, United Nations special rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children, and the Spanish doctor Professor Jose Antonio Lorente, scientific director of the Centro Pfizer - Junta de Andalucia Centre for Genomics and Oncological Research (GENYO) of the University of Granada, Spain.

The workshop aims "to establish the real state of this phenomenon and an agenda to combat this heinous crime. For example, the natural sciences today can provide new tools that can be used against this new form of slavery, such as a digital registry to compare the DNA of unidentified missing children (including cases of illegal adoption) with that of their family members who have reported their disappearance", writes Bishop Marcelo Sanchez-Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and of the Social Sciences.

"No one can deny that 'the trade in human persons constitutes a shocking offence against human dignity and a grave violation of fundamental human rights', and is an accelerator of criminal profits in this new century. The Second Vatican Council itself observed that 'slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children, and disgraceful working conditions where people are treated as instruments of gain rather than free and responsible persons' are 'infamies' which 'poison human society' ... and constitute 'a supreme dishonour to the Creator'".

According to the recent UNODC Report on Trafficking, "the International Labour Organisation estimated that between 2002 and 2010 '20.9 million people were victims of forced labour globally. This estimate also includes victims of human trafficking for labour and sexual exploitation, 60% of whom are girls. Human organ trafficking reaches almost 1% of that figure, thus affecting around 20,000 people who are forced or deceived into giving up an organ, such as the liver, kidney, pancreas, cornea, lung and even the heart".

"Some observers speculate that, within ten years, human trafficking will surpass drugs and weapons trafficking to become the most profitable criminal activity in the world", reiterated Bishop Sanchez-Sorondo. "International sex trafficking is not limited to poor and undeveloped areas of the world - it is a problem in virtually every region of the globe. Countries with large (often legal) sex industries create the demand for trafficked women and girls, while countries where traffickers can easily recruit provide the supply. Generally, economically depressed countries provide the easiest recruitment for trafficking".

He concluded by recalling that, during the canonisation of the Mexican saint, Guadalupe Garcia Zavala, Pope Francis said that the work the saint carried out with the poor, the abandoned, the sick and the marginalised, "taught us this behaviour: not to feel ashamed, not to fear, not to find 'touching Christ's flesh' repugnant. ... Pope Francis' words are a clear reaction, following Jesus Christ's message, to this new form of contemporary slavery which constitutes an abhorrent violation of the dignity and rights of human beings".

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