Cardinal Vincent Nichols called on all governments to act upon their commitments to assist victims of human trafficking at the conclusion of the Santa Marta Group conference for Latin America, held in Buenos Aires.
Over 100 countries signed the United Nations Palermo Protocol which calls on governments to catch and prosecute criminals and also to help trafficking victims with jobs, education and rehabilitation. Despite this commitment, Cardinal Nichols told delegates that this was not being carried out.
The Santa Marta Group Conference in Buenos Aires agreed to a series of measures in the ongoing fight against human trafficking. The conference was attended by Church representatives from across Latin America who work in the assistance of victims of human trafficking as well as the Argentinian federal police force, for whom this is a priority.
Cardinal Nichols said:
“Most countries in the world have signed this protocol and ratified the measures to assist victims. However they have turned their backs on this responsibility and are not acting upon this agreed commitment. In the UK a hostile environment towards migrants has been created and victims of trafficking have been criminalised, despite promises to support victims of this horrendous crime which sees so many kept in slavery. There are over 40 million people, mainly women and children, trafficked and kept in slavery. As Pope Francis says this is a crime against humanity and a wound on the body of Christ.
“As the Santa Marta Group we will pursue this issue and continue to push for the victim to be at the centre of all we do. I have been inspired by the testimony of those working with victims in Argentina, and the leadership of Commissioner General Roncaglia head of the Argentinian federal police whose commitment to fighting human trafficking shows the way forward.
“This is not about public image, but about effective action and while there is much work to do, this conference inspires us on the way forward. This is an international crime, which is one of the most lucrative crimes in the world, and it requires an international response as well as the local care of the victim. Next week I will talk to Pope Francis about this meeting as we seek to increase cooperation between the Church, police and civil society to end this scourge.”
Cardinal Nichols also met with ministers of the Argentinian government, who have shown global leadership in this struggle by getting the fight against human trafficking onto the agenda of the G20 group of leading nations.
The full conclusions of the conference can be downloaded here.