Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic. Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic. 

Holy See: human trafficking is the “largest manifestation of modern slavery”

Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations in Geneva addressed a session on trafficking in persons on June 21 at the Human Rights Council.

By Robin Gomes

The Holy See says that human trafficking, the “largest manifestation of modern slavery”, can be defeated by “eliminating the culture of consumerism” and fostering a culture of encounter centred on respect for human dignity. 

Even as Pope Francis was visiting Geneva on Thursday, Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations in Geneva made the statement at a Human Rights Council in the Swiss city during a session on trafficking in persons.

Lucrative business

Using the words of St. Pope John Paul II, Archbishop Jurkovic said that trafficking in persons is “a shocking offence against human dignity and a grave violation of fundamental human rights.” 

The archbishop noted that with more than 900 million people on the move, this transnational crime has developed as a lucrative business that takes advantage of conflict, misery, corruption, lack of education and the struggle for a better future.  Most of the victims are women and children.

This is why, he said, Pope Francis started what is called the Santa Marta Group that engages law enforcement agencies and religious actors to consider common actions that aim to improve cooperation to eradicate trafficking in persons and modern slavery, placing the victims at the very centre of its strategy. 

Measures against the scourge

Among several measures that the Vatican diplomat suggested in combatting the scourge are decriminalizing victims, prosecuting traffickers and consumers, prevention, protection and re-integration of victims and using convicted traffickers’ assets for assisting victims. 

Trafficking can be eliminated

“We can defeat trafficking in persons only by eliminating the culture of consumerism, which feeds it,” Archbishop Jurkovic said.  “Furthermore, we need to foster a new culture of encounter centred on respect for the inalienable human dignity of every person,” he said, stressing, “No one is born to be treated as a slave.”

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21 June 2018, 15:21