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UN NEW YORK HEADQUARTERS SIDE-EVENT / JANUARY 11, 2024: HUMAN TRAFFICKING — PREVENTATIVE STRATEGIES AND CARE OF VICTIMS, A CALL TO ACTION AMONGST GOVERNMENT, CIVIL SOCIETY, AND HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS, REFLECTING PROGRESS TOWARDS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS 5.2 AND 8.7

UN NEW YORK HEADQUARTERS SIDE-EVENT / JANUARY 11, 2024: HUMAN TRAFFICKING — PREVENTATIVE STRATEGIES AND CARE OF VICTIMS, A CALL TO ACTION AMONGST GOVERNMENT, CIVIL SOCIETY, AND HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS, REFLECTING PROGRESS TOWARDS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS 5.2 AND 8.7

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HUMAN TRAFFICKING

PREVENTATIVE STRATEGIES & CARE OF VICTIMS
A Call to Action Amongst Gov­ern­ment, Civ­il Soci­ety, and Health Care Professionals

 

Event orga­nized by the Per­ma­nent Mis­sion of the Sov­er­eign Order of Mal­ta in New York, 

Glob­al Strate­gic Oper­a­tives and Finance Against Slav­ery and Traf­fick­ing (FAST)

Co-spon­sored by the Per­ma­nent Mis­sions of France, Liecht­en­stein, Mex­i­co, Nigeria

 

 New York, UN Head­quar­ters, Trustee­ship Coun­cil Cham­ber, 11 Jan­u­ary 2024

 

Pro­fes­sor Michel Veuthey
Ambas­sador of the Sov­er­eign Order of Mal­ta
to mon­i­tor and com­bat human trafficking.

Excel­len­cies, Ladies and Gen­tle­men, Dear Friends,

First, I would like to thank Ambas­sador Beres­ford-Hill for invit­ing me to this impor­tant event, and to express my grat­i­tude to his team, for their effi­cient and friend­ly support.

Human traf­fick­ing, a form of con­tem­po­rary slav­ery, affects all coun­tries.  It is an ever-grow­ing plague that can­not leave us indif­fer­ent. If slav­ery were an Amer­i­can State, it would have a greater pop­u­la­tion than that of Cal­i­for­nia and the eco­nom­ic out­put of the Dis­trict of Colum­bia. If slav­ery were a coun­try, it would have the third largest CO₂ emis­sions on the plan­et.
after Chi­na and the USA.

Today 50 mil­lion peo­ple world­wide are vic­tims of con­tem­po­rary slav­ery. There have nev­er been as many slaves in his­to­ry as there are today.

We are here to reflect and act togeth­er.  Con­tem­po­rary slav­ery affects mil­lions of peo­ple in dif­fer­ent forms:

 

  1. Forced labour
  2. Sex­u­al slavery,
  3. Sale and abduc­tion of chil­dren, forced motherhood
  4. Child pornog­ra­phy,
  5. Organ theft
  6. Forced crime, from beg­ging to terrorism.

We must pay trib­ute to the impor­tant efforts made to cod­i­fy treaties which could pre­vent human traf­fick­ing and pro­tect vic­tims and sur­vivors:

We should make full use of all legal instru­ments and imple­men­ta­tion mech­a­nisms to pre­vent and com­bat human traf­fick­ing: human rights, labour law, inter­na­tion­al human­i­tar­i­an law, inter­na­tion­al crim­i­nal law (under spe­cif­ic cir­cum­stances human traf­fick­ing could be pros­e­cut­ed as a war crime or a crime against human­i­ty), inter­na­tion­al mar­itime law, refugee and migrant law, the Paler­mo Con­ven­tion and its Pro­to­cols, with­out for­get­ting restora­tive justice.

Accord­ing to inter­na­tion­al legal experts, includ­ing Kevin Hyland, one of today’s keynote speak­ers, imple­men­ta­tion is fail­ing both at the domes­tic and inter­na­tion­al level.

Allow me to also quote Valiant Richey, a for­mer US pros­e­cu­tor, who until April of last year was the OSCE’s Spe­cial Rep­re­sen­ta­tive and Coor­di­na­tor for Com­bat­ing Traf­fick­ing in Human Beings:

“Some 20 years ago, in 2000, the Paler­mo Pro­to­col pro­vid­ed us with the first inter­na­tion­al def­i­n­i­tion of traf­fick­ing and high­light­ed the three pil­lars of our response: pro­tec­tion, pros­e­cu­tion and pre­ven­tion. But sad­ly, more than two decades lat­er, traf­fick­ing is worse than ever, and no coun­try has defeat­ed it. I think we real­ly need States to imple­ment their inter­na­tion­al legal obligations”. 

Anoth­er expert, Vin­cent Cochetel (UNHCR’s Spe­cial Envoy for the Cen­tral Mediter­ranean Sit­u­a­tion) dur­ing our side-event to the Glob­al Refugee Forum in Gene­va one month ago said: “I would like to share my frus­tra­tion at the grow­ing gap between the renewed polit­i­cal calls sug­gest­ing that more is being done against human traf­fick­ers —and the real­i­ty I know. My con­cern also relates to the grow­ing gap between capac­i­ty build­ing efforts and vic­tim assis­tance in this field: a recent report from the UN sys­tem in March 2023 doc­u­ment­ed that most of the fund­ing relat­ing to human traf­fick­ing go towards data col­lec­tion, research, soft capac­i­ty build­ing activities.” 

And then I would like to quote Mgr. Robert J. Vit­il­lo, Sec­re­tary-Gen­er­al of the ICMC (Inter­na­tion­al Catholic Migra­tion Com­mis­sion), who declared that to ful­ly imple­ment legal instru­ments, we need to bet­ter under­stand the nature of human traf­fick­ing: “Human traf­fick­ing cer­tain­ly rep­re­sents one of the great­est human rights fail­ures of past and present eras.  Such fail­ure may be root­ed in our lim­it­ed focus on the legal and tech­ni­cal aspects.  With all due respect to the attor­neys here and pro­mo­tion of human rights, whilst such ele­ments are fun­da­men­tal to such efforts, they are not at all suf­fi­cient.  Giv­en the com­plex phe­nom­e­na of human traf­fick­ing and forced unsafe migra­tion, I am ful­ly aware of the impos­si­bil­i­ty to cap­ture all the root caus­es in a short peri­od of time.  Among the root caus­es are the obses­sion of busi­ness almost exclu­sive­ly on amass­ing more mon­ey and prof­it which eas­i­ly leads to the com­mod­i­fi­ca­tion and exploita­tion of peo­plewith the con­se­quence of extreme pover­ty and unequal access to enjoy basic human rights and the demand side:Con­sumers con­sti­tute a huge mass who seem large­ly unaware of the exploita­tion yet enjoy the ben­e­fits of the ser­vices pro­vid­ed by traf­ficked per­sons.” 

What can we do?

The Sov­er­eign Order of Mal­ta would like to high­light the impor­tant role of reli­gious lead­ers and reli­gious con­gre­ga­tions in the pro­tec­tion and assis­tance to vic­tims and sur­vivors of human traf­fick­ing. Allow me to mention:

  1. The San­ta Mar­ta Group, a glob­al part­ner­ship with rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Catholic Church, police agen­cies and inter­na­tion­al orga­ni­za­tions from 30 coun­tries. We have the hon­or to have Kevin Hyland, Glob­al Strat­e­gy Direc­tor of San­ta Mar­ta with us.
  2. The Inter­na­tion­al Catholic Migra­tion Com­mis­sion (ICMC) pro­tects and serves uproot­ed peo­ple, includ­ing refugees, asy­lum-seek­ers, inter­nal­ly dis­placed peo­ple, vic­tims of human traf­fick­ing, and migrants — regard­less of faith, race, eth­nic­i­ty, or nationality.
  3. The Tal­itha Kum Net­work, the Inter­na­tion­al Net­work of Con­se­crat­ed Life Against Human Traf­fick­ing, with Mem­bers from 92 countries.
  4. Aus­tralian Anti-Slav­ery Net­work (ACAN), facil­i­tat­ed by the Anti-Slav­ery Task­force of the Arch­dio­cese of Syd­ney (CAS), which was estab­lished by a Knight of Mal­ta, for­mer Ambas­sador of Aus­tralia to the Holy See, John McCarthy.

and oth­ers:

  1. Jesuit Refugee Ser­vices (JRS), work­ing in 52 countries.
  2. COATNET (Car­i­tas), a glob­al net­work of Chris­t­ian orga­ni­za­tions work­ing to com­bat human traf­fick­ing and assist­ing sur­vivors of mod­ern slav­ery with 45 Chris­t­ian (Catholic, Angli­can, and Ortho­dox) orga­ni­za­tions in 39 countries.

  1. The Catholic Coali­tion against Human Traf­ficking, based at the US Con­fer­ence of Catholic Bishops.

  1. The S. Catholic Sis­ters Against Human Traf­fick­ing, a col­lab­o­ra­tive, faith-based nation­al net­work that offers edu­ca­tion, sup­ports access to sur­vivor ser­vices, and engages in advo­ca­cy to erad­i­cate mod­ern-day slavery.

 

  1. Reli­gious in Europe Net­work­ing Against Traf­fick­ing and Exploita­tion (RENATE), a net­work of 139 orga­ni­za­tions work­ing in 31 countries.

 

  1. Asso­ci­a­tion Comu­nità Papa Gio­van­ni XXIII, in Italy, with over 60 fam­i­ly homes out­side of Italy.

 

  1. Africa Net­work against Human Traf­fick­ing (ANHAT).

 

  1. Aus­tralian Catholic Reli­gious Against Traf­fick­ing in Humans (ACRATH).

 

  1. SOLWODI (Sol­i­dar­i­ty with Women in Dis­tress), active in Ger­many, Aus­tria, Ruma­nia, Hun­gary and Africa.

  1. The Sis­ters of Our Lady of Char­i­ty of the Good Shep­herd (RGS).

 

  1. The Sis­ters of St Louis, 

 

  1. The Daugh­ters of Char­i­ty of St. Vin­cent DePaul.

I would also like to high­light the Catholic Church’s Social Doc­trine. It makes pos­si­ble to iden­ti­fy and tack­le the root caus­es of the resur­gence of slav­ery, the first of which is the loss of eth­i­cal ref­er­ence pro­tect­ing the fun­da­men­tal rights of the human per­son and his or her fam­i­ly, social and nat­ur­al envi­ron­ment. Two key doc­u­ments are: the “Lauda­to si’ ”Encycli­cal Let­ter and the “Pas­toral Ori­en­ta­tions on Human Traf­fick­ing”. Shared uni­ver­sal fun­da­men­tal val­ues and prayers based on an Inter­re­li­gious dia­logue respect­ing the life and dig­ni­ty of every human per­son could also be an impor­tant contribution.

The Order of Mal­ta con­tributes to the fight against human traf­fick­ing by:

  • Advo­cat­ing through its bilat­er­al diplo­mat­ic net­work (113 States) and mul­ti­lat­er­al diplo­mat­ic net­work through state­ments at each ses­sion of the Human Rights Coun­cil, UN Gen­er­al Assem­bly and even at the Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil (last month, on the 7th of Decem­ber, Ambas­sador Beres­ford-Hill, the Order’s Ambas­sador in New York, made a state­ment before the Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil on human traf­fick­ing as a threat to inter­na­tion­al peace and security).
  • Assist­ing vic­tims through med­ical and social pro­grams through its Nation­al Asso­ci­a­tions and its world­wide human­i­tar­i­an orga­ni­za­tion “Mal­teser Inter­na­tion­al”, often in coop­er­a­tion with local Catholic bish­ops (among oth­ers in Boston, Mass., Salzburg, Aus­tria, Syd­ney, Aus­tralia, and Tang­iers, Moroc­co) and con­gre­ga­tions (such as the Sis­ters of Saint Louis in Lagos, Nige­ria, for the “Bakhi­ta House”, a shel­ter for survivors).
  • Offer­ing a free online train­ing course for helpers in Eng­lish, French, Ger­man, Ital­ian and Span­ish as well as Por­tuguese, on https://www.cuhd.org.
  • Coop­er­at­ing with Uni­ver­si­ties:
  • imple­ment­ing a Mem­o­ran­dum of Under­stand­ing the Sov­er­eign Order of Mal­ta signed with the Uni­ver­si­ty of Peace (UPEACE). With the coop­er­a­tion of UNHCR and IOM, we shall orga­nize train­ing cours­es on human traf­fick­ing, online and in person.
  • Last Decem­ber (2023), the Order of Mal­ta signed a Mem­o­ran­dum of Under­stand­ing with the Pon­tif­i­cal Gre­go­ri­an Uni­ver­si­ty for the pro­tec­tion of minors and vul­ner­a­ble per­sons, to pre­vent abuse of minors and vul­ner­a­ble per­sons, encour­ag­ing the imple­men­ta­tion of good prac­tices and rais­ing aware­ness around safe­guard­ing issues. Present for the Order of Mal­ta was the Grand Hos­pi­taller, Fra’ Alessan­dro de Fran­cis­cis: “The agree­ment signed today is the start­ing point of a com­pre­hen­sive pro­gramme of ini­tia­tives of lis­ten­ing to and of train­ing our mem­bers, vol­un­teers and employ­ees, to safe­guard those we assist all minors and vul­ner­a­ble people.” 

  • Orga­niz­ing 39 webi­na­rs on best prac­tices to pre­vent and com­bat human traf­fick­ing
    ( www.adlaudatosi.org ) with sub­ti­tles in sev­en lan­guages (Chi­nese, Eng­lish, French, Ger­man, Ital­ian, Russ­ian and Span­ish) with lead­ing inter­na­tion­al spe­cial­ists (adlaudatosi.org)

 

  • Col­lect­ing best prac­tices on a web­site (christusliberat.org) to assist sur­vivors to empow­er them­selves, through a plat­form to share their sto­ries and insights and engage them­selves in sup­port of oth­er survivors)

 

  • Final­ly, pray­ing for poten­tial vic­tims, sur­vivors and helpers, and for the con­ver­sion of traf­fick­ers. The next pub­lic oppor­tu­ni­ty shall be the World Day of Prayer against Human Traf­fick­ing, the 8th of Feb­ru­ary, the Feast of Saint Bakhi­ta, Patron Saint of mod­ern slaves.

The Order of Mal­ta needs to coop­er­ate with Gov­ern­ments and inter­na­tion­al organisations. 

In addi­tion to today, one month ago, in Gene­va, we orga­nized an event on “Refugee Pro­tec­tion and Human Traf­fick­ing” in the frame­work of the Glob­al Refugee Forum, with Car­i­tas Inter­na­tion­alis, UNHCR, the Spe­cial on Human Traf­fick­ing, along­side with the co-spon­sor­ship of the Per­ma­nent Mis­sions of Colom­bia, the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Repub­lic of Con­go, France, the Holy See and Switzer­land, as well as UNODC.

We need to acknowl­edge and learn from what oth­ers are doing. Allow me to quote the con­clu­sion of a recent­ly pub­lished report (Sep­tem­ber 2023) of the World Health Orga­ni­za­tion Euro­pean Region Address­ing human traf­fick­ing through health sys­tems:“Mem­ber States and their health sys­tems can play a cru­cial role in respond­ing to and pre­vent­ing labour and sex traf­fick­ing. Health sys­tems are unique­ly sit­u­at­ed to iden­ti­fy, treat, and pro­tect traf­ficked peo­ple and those most at risk of future traf­fick­ing. They are also able to pro­vide thought­ful lead­er­ship in inter­sec­toral anti-traf­fick­ing programmes”. 

In con­clu­sion It is coop­er­a­tion between all stake­hold­ers that is need­ed to effec­tive­ly pre­vent, pro­tect, and reha­bil­i­tate vic­tims and sur­vivors. Train­ing is essen­tial if gov­ern­ments, civ­il soci­ety, and all stake­hold­ers are to become aware of and able to imple­ment the legal, polit­i­cal, eco­nom­ic, and social instru­ments need­ed to com­bat the scourge of human traf­fick­ing, and, for the sec­ond time in his­to­ry, under­take to erad­i­cate slavery.

We need more resources, more mate­r­i­al, and more peo­ple, so that we may be able to effec­tive­ly erad­i­cate mod­ern slav­ery from our world.

Togeth­er we can abol­ish mod­ern slav­ery involv­ing all actors: Gov­ern­ments and Inter­na­tion­al Organ­i­sa­tions, Reli­gious Con­gre­ga­tions, Busi­ness­es and Media, Research and Train­ing with­out for­get­ting vic­tims and survivors.

I would like to thank you in advance for your sup­port and remain at your dis­pos­al to answer any ques­tions you may have. Feel free to approach me so that we may be able to col­lab­o­rate in the future.

Thank you for your attention.

OUR MISSION:

THE PURPOSE IS TO SHARE BEST PRACTICES AND PROMOTE ACTIONS AGAINST HUMAN TRAFFICKING.

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