“Christian Commitment – Created in the image of God, treated like slaves….” is the title of the document on combating human trafficking presented today. The result of a joint initiative of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, Caritas Internationalis and the COATNET network (ecumenical network of Christian organizations fighting human trafficking), the document aims to raise awareness in the Bishops’ Conferences and national Caritas on the phenomenon of trafficking, suggesting the possible initiatives to counter it.
“According to ILO estimates, there are at least 2.4 million trafficked persons at any given point in time. Yet there are only a few thousand convictions of traffickers every year. Most of the victims are not identified and consequently never receive justice for the damage inflicted upon them. Despite growing awareness and more effective law enforcement responses, trafficking remains a low-risk criminal enterprise with high returns. The ILO estimates that annual profits generated from trafficking in human beings are as high as US$32 billion”.
After providing some food for thought about the reality and the root causes of this “modern form of slavery”, the document points out four options of intervention for the Church: prevention and awareness activities targeted at risk groups, educators and professionals, or to the general public; assistance to trafficked persons by providing them a secure shelter, individual social, medical, psychological and legal assistance, and vocational training; commitment of political advocacy; “Networking” within organizations linked to the Church and the Church itself, to strengthen collaboration and coordination of the various initiatives, as well as with Church-related organizations.
One can raise awareness, the document suggests, in communities, schools, parishes and social centers about trafficking; organizing prayers and information events on the International Day against human trafficking (8 February); developing projects aimed at offering assistance to victims; establishing collaboration with other local organizations; advocating for anti-trafficking laws and their enforcement in their respective countries; developing guidelines based on local context.