Official: No Easy Way to Stop Human Trafficking

Archbishop Considers Roots of Problem

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ROME, MAY 22, 2009 ( Though trafficking in human beings is a «tremendous offense to dignity,» there is no easy solution to this multifaceted and international problem, says a Vatican official.

Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, considered the gravity of human trafficking during an address Wednesday at a conference organized by the Association of the Pope John XXIII Community.

The prelate called trafficking «one of the most shameful [phenomena] of our epoch.» He recognized that «poverty and the lack of opportunities and social cohesion» are at the root of this tragedy, since these causes «bring people to seek a better future despite risks.»

And trafficking in human beings continues to spread, in part because of «an absence of specific norms in some countries, victims’ ignorance of their rights, the sociocultural structure and armed conflicts,» Archbishop Marchetto contended.

He also mentioned the «current restrictions that emigrants find in legally going to developed countries.»

What to do

Archbishop Marchetto lamented that «there are no easy solutions,» and affirmed that a «coherent and integral approach» is needed to stop this particular form of abuse.

«Not only the need of the victims [should be considered],» he said, «but also the just punishment for those who benefit from this activity and the implementation of preventive measures, in the first place to increase awareness and sensitivity, and also to take on the causes of this phenomenon.»

The prelate affirmed that this effort should also promote victims’ integration in their new societies, «especially those who collaborate with authorities against traffickers.»

At the same time, the Vatican official suggested that a possible return to the nations of origin should be considered, a return that «can be accompanied with the proposal of a microcredit or loans, thereby ensuring that victims do not return to the same environment of dangers without resources.»

He further proposed a system of reimbursement to be financed with assets confiscated from the traffickers.


Trafficking in human persons, Archbishop Marchetto stated, is a «multifaceted problem, often linked to immigration, which goes beyond the sex industry and also includes the forced labor of men, women and children in various industrial sectors, including construction, renovation and tourism, agriculture and domestic services.»

«Even if a part of forced labor is linked to discrimination and poverty, to local customs, to the victims’ lack of a home and illiteracy, another part is related to the flexible and cheap labor, that often facilitates low prices for the consumer, which makes it attractive for the employers,» he explained.

And the prelate lamented that victims are often only protected during the course of investigations against traffickers; they are then repatriated, with or without a «packet» of support to help them restart their lives.

«Only in a few countries are their measures to guarantee the protection of these victims,» he said, «offering them the possibility of staying in the society that received them and integrating themselves, at least with certain conditions.»

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