Vatican steps up fight against human trafficking

Pope Francis wants action against modern forms of slavery including forced labour and prostitution, the Vatican said on Monday after a meeting of experts called by the pontiff to debate the problem.

“Some experts believe human trafficking will overtake drug and arms trafficking in a decade, becoming the most lucrative criminal activity in the world,” Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, was quoted in media reports.

Sorondo said the pope was heavily invested in a subject he knows well from his years in Latin America and had even invited two experts on human trafficking that he knows from Buenos Aires.

Further meetings are planned in 2014 and 2015.

A Vatican study group said human trafficking is a crime against humanity that should be recognized as such and punished by international or regional courts.

A global slavery index issued last month by the Walk Free Foundation charity noted that nearly 30 million people live in slavery across the globe, many of them men, women and children trafficked by gangs for sex work and unskilled labor.

“International or regional courts … should be created because human trafficking in an international phenomenon that cannot be properly prosecuted and punished at the national level,” said a statement listing 50 recommendations made during the two-day seminar in the Vatican.

The Vatican statement gave no details of the proposal made by the more than 100 experts who attended the seminar.

“The idea is that it should be something along the lines of European courts that go beyond borders,” said Sorondo.

Pope Francis has made defending the poor and vulnerable a cornerstone of his papacy. He has made numerous appeals for the protection of refugees.


AFP/Huffington Post


Image: Getty Images/Huffington Post

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