January 25, 2019 — The Action Committee Against Domestic and International Trafficking in Persons (CATHII) met this week at Bellarmin House to discuss human trafficking and human rights. This meeting coincides with the publication, in Rome, of a pastoral guide (pdf) produced by the Dicastery on integral human development. Published on January 17, 2009 and entitled Pastoral Orientations on Human Trafficking, this guide was developed in part by Canadian Jesuit Father Michael Czerny, Under-Secretary of the Migrants and Refugees section of the Roman dicastery.
Jesuits in Canada are members of CATHII. They are the only male religious community to be a member of this women’s coalition.
Since 2000, the UN’s Palermo Protocol has provided an official definition of human trafficking. According to article 3a of the Protocol, human trafficking is defined as follows:
The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.
In other words, it is the exploitation of persons for prostitution or forced labour. In any form, human trafficking is a serious violation of human rights. It often involves the movement of victims across borders or within the same country. This type of trade targets the most vulnerable in society. This is why women and children are often victims. The 2019 figures are staggering: at least 70 per cent of victims of human trafficking are female.
Human trafficking is the third most widespread and profitable form of trafficking, after trafficking in arms and drugs. Trading in human beings generates revenues of $32 billion per year. The phenomenon is so important that since 2013, July 30 is a World Day dedicated to its eradication.
From the very beginning of his pontificate, Pope Francis committed himself to the fight against human trafficking. With its new pastoral guide, the Vatican is adopting a set of guidelines aimed at improving the Church’s work at a time when the phenomenon is on the rise.
The Church has set itself an ambitious objective: to eradicate this modern-day calamity. "The long-term goal is to prevent and ultimately dismantle this most evil and sinful enterprise of deception, trapping, domination and exploitation," explains Jesuit Father Michael Czerny, who co-signs the document. One more step has just been taken.