Each year, thousands of people are deceived and sold into slavery as forced laborers, prostitutes or beggars, in other words become victims of human trafficking. What the Church can do.
The Church, including religious congregations, Catholic organizations and the faithful have a unique potential and – by default – the obligation to engage in a coordinated global effort to combat trafficking in human beings.
Prevention and awareness raising: supporting and undertaking prevention activities, predominantly through awareness raising. The raising awareness activities can be targeted at risk groups, (e.g. to people who actively intend to migrate in search of a job away from home, within or outside one’s own country, to migrants in an irregular situation, or to groups who due to their circumstances are more at risk of falling victim to the crime of trafficking), educators and professionals (such as doctors, priests, nurses, non specialized social workers and government officials), or to the general public.
Assistance to trafficked persons: providing secure shelter for trafficked persons in the countries of destination, transit and origin (for repatriated trafficked persons); providing individual social, medical, psychological and legal assistance, as well as vocational training to empower trafficked persons professionally. Effective assistance requires trans-national cooperation and networking; in this respect networking and cooperation with religious orders of sisters will be particularly valuable and effective. Fully respecting the religious plurality of trafficked persons and if it is possible, effective assistance should also pay particular attention to the spiritual healing of the trafficked persons and to their full spiritual and mental rehabilitation, in order to enable them to deal with the lifelong suffering that invariably is caused by trafficking.
Advocacy: Political advocacy work is as important as the assistance for trafficked persons, and should particularly address the root causes of trafficking, with a focus on advocating for alternatives for vulnerable groups. Advocacy in countries of destination and towards international institutions should specifically aim at ensuring that appropriate legislation is in place and is being properly enforced at national and international level to protect trafficked persons, to punish traffickers and to guarantee the rights of trafficked persons but also towards migration policies and economic policies that reduce vulnerability of people to trafficking. Finally, advocacy should highlight the need for eradication of forced labour and promotion of decent working conditions.
Networking: It is very important to work, both nationally and internationally, in interdisciplinary networks, where the cooperation between authorities, NGOs and international organizations improves. At the same time there is a need to network within the Church and Church-related organizations, in order to strengthen collaboration and coordination of different efforts, as well as with ecumenical partners in other churches. Networking should aim at improving the trans-national assistance and protection to trafficked persons. Networking is also a tool for joint advocacy work in seeking the improvement of legislation at international and national levels and their enforcement.