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Vatican announces results of human trafficking conference

2015-04-22

Shortly after his election, Pope Francis gave the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences a new mandate. In a handwritten note, he suggested "it would be good to examine human trafficking and modern slavery.”

Since then, the organization has strongly focused on the issue. At the academy's latest conference, top experts from around the world discussed what could be done to fight human trafficking, beyond just criminialization.

MARGARET S. ARCHER
President, Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences 
"There were these small groups. But they were not connected together. And that's one of our aims, to bring them together and to turn human trafficking into a moral and criminal offense throughout the world.”

One of the main focuses of the conference was on how to lower demand for trafficking, so that the amount of people who fall victim to the trade could be reduced.

MARGARET S. ARCHER
President, Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences 
"While ever there is a demand for trafficked persons, while ever they are a profitable commodity, it will continue.”

As an example, Archer said that the Catholic Church could play a role in reducing demand for organ trafficking by encouraging Catholics to become organ donors.

The conference participants also concluded that it was important to build an international organization to fight human trafficking.

STEFANO ZAMAGNI
Professor, University of Bologna 
"It is urgent to build a global anti-trafficking organization. That is, an authority that is like the World Trade Organization, for example, and can implement agreed-upon protocols.”

He added that a major problem is that countries often agree to rules to fight trafficking, but they are never enacted. 

STEFANO ZAMAGNI
Professor, University of Bologna 
"This happens because there isn't necessarily an agency endowed with the power to impose these protocols as they are passed, like with trade power, for example.”

While the most recent conference has just ended, their work has only begun. Archer said that Pope Francis will soon meet with United Nations Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon.

MARGARET S. ARCHER
President, Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences 
"On the 28th of April, Ban ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the UN, is coming here. He will have a private audience with Pope Francis, after which PASS will again have a meeting with him where we discuss our recommendations.”

The Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences will host a seminar at the end of April to specifically discuss children who become victims of human trafficking.


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