“Legal frameworks and reliable pathways” are neccessary “to prevent migrants from becoming victims of human trafficking”, declares Fr. Michael Czerny.
Fr. Czerny, Undersecretary of the Migrant and Refugee Section of the Holy See, spoke at the Fifth Thematic Session on the Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration, on the topic: “Smuggling of migrants, trafficking in persons and contemporary forms of slavery, including appropriate identification, protection and assistance to migrants and trafficking victims.” The meeting is September 2-5, 2017 in Vienna, sponsored by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
“Elements of human trafficking are present in much of contemporary human smuggling, and this is one reason why the migration process can go disastrously wrong,” he said: “Traffickers can easily take advantage of the desperation of migrants and asylum seekers. Ending up in an irregular or undocumented status, they are at a very high risk of abuse and exploitation, including trafficking and enslavement. Therefore, the Holy See stresses the importance of ensuring adequate legal frameworks and reliable pathways to prevent migrants from becoming victims of human trafficking.”
“In the preparation of the Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration, the Holy See very much welcomes the deep consideration of issues like trafficking and contemporary slavery, which cause so much suffering for an ever increasing number of hapless victims in every part of the world,” Fr Czerny said. “Despite the great achievements of international agreements, asylum seekers and migrants, who risk their lives in search of safety and a new home, are still and ever more vulnerable, especially to criminal organizations.”
Fr. Czerny said the migration process usually begins with “high hopes and expectations for greater security and better opportunities.” But he noted that because safe, regular and affordable routes are generally not available, many migrants employ smugglers.
Fr. Czerny cited various issues that contribute to the vulnerability of migrants: poverty, statelessness, joblessness, lack of education, discrimination against women and girls.
“Each society needs to recognize the forces of demand — for example, for prostitution, or for labor below the minimum national standards — that are at work domestically to make human trafficking very profitable,” Fr. Czerny said.
He said the number of smuggled and trafficked migrants keeps on increasing alarmingly: “According to the 2016 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, 51 percent of the victims are women, 21 percent are men, 20 percent girls and 8 percent boys. Human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar industry, among the world’s largest, with an estimated 21 to 46 million people, victims of forced labor, debt-bondage, sex and other forms of trafficking. Slavery must not be an unavoidable aspect of economies. Instead, business should be in the vanguard in combating and preventing this travesty.”
Fr Czerny said that there must be investigations coordinated at national, regional and international levels. Data and key information sharing must be assured as well as legal protection for victims, while perpetrators are prosecuted and brought to justice, he said.
“To protect human dignity, the training of public officers, and establishing national policies to guarantee foreigners access to justice, are very important,” he said. “Assistance to victims must be guaranteed in receiving countries, and the principle of ‘non-refoulement”’has to be applied to victims of trafficking, assuring them
psychological counselling and other support and rehabilitation. Victims should be allowed to stay regularly in the country as long as they need healing therapy and eventually have their stay extended with the opportunity to work.
“We ought to recognize that we are facing a global phenomenon that exceeds the competence of any one community or country. In order to eliminate it, we need a mobilization comparable in size to that of the phenomenon itself.”
“The Holy See looks forward to participating in the high-level meeting to review the progress made on the implementation of the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, September 27-28, 2017 in New York,” Fr Czerny concluded.