On Thursday, 12th December 2013 at the Clementine Hall, Pope Francis received Ambassadors who were newly accredited to the Holy See. On the occasion of the presentation of the letters of credence, Pope Francis addressed to them the problem of human trafficking. “Such trafficking is a true form of slavery, unfortunately more and more widespread, which concerns every country, even the most developed. It is a reality which affects the most vulnerable in society: women of all ages, children, the handicapped, the poorest, and those who come from broken families and from difficult situations in society”.
Pope Francis to the New Ambassadors – full text
TAGAYTAY CITY, PHILIPPINES by N.J. Viehland
EU Civil Society Platform was officially launched on the 31 May 2013 in Brussels. Civil society organisations from EU Member States, working against trafficking in human beings, were invited to apply for participation. Applications were examined by the European Commission ensuring a maximum number of participants with a geographical balance to include all Member States if possible and taking into account a diversity of areas of expertise and type of organisation in order to allow the EU to understand, with a comprehensive approach, the reality which could effect the EU policy. A hundred organisations were represented in the first meeting of the Platform.
The second meeting of this Platform was scheduled for 9-10 December 2013. Myria Vassiliadou, EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator, welcomed new representatives from four non-EU Members States such as Albania, Turkey, Ukraine and Morocco. The aim of this meeting was to update participants with the recent developments of the European Commission and to present an outline of the Online Platform, and to discuss in the light of this information as a basis for assessing and further improving the policy. The representatives also participated in workshops on topics suggested earlier by Members of the Platform. The three areas of discussion were:
There was an introduction to each working group done respectively by the speakers who participate in the meetings of the Informal Network of National Rapporteurs or Equivalent Mechanisms (NREM): Venla Roth – NREM Finland, Patricia Le Cocq – NREM Belgium, Romulus Nicolae Ungureanu – NREM Romania.
Full description of the workshops is available here.
All participants were invited to the networking dinner at the hotel. It was very kind of Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, to express her interest and give attention to the work being done by the Civil Society Organisations. She stressed that the phenomenon of Human Trafficking is now more and more recognised even among youth. Having received many school/college groups she said that all had raised questions about Human Trafficking. This is a sign of a growing awareness consequent to many raising activities being undertaken by many stakeholders working in the field.
All groups had good discussions which brought many points for consideration and suggestions for future actions. Among the most important, there were:
GROUP No. 1.
GROUP No. 2.
GROUP No. 3.
Concluding the Second Meeting of the EU Civil Society Platform, Myria Vassiliadou led our attention to the day of our meeting, 10th of December which is Human Rights Day. We observed one minute of silence for all those for whom we work, victims of present-day slavery. She thanked all participants for their presence, work on the topics and reminded about the coming challenge for the EU Member States which are obliged to measure reduction of the demand.
Full report from this meeting will be public and available on the EU Civil Society Platform website.
this is the great membership wide news
this is is news !!!
RENATE Members present at the 2nd Meeting of The EU Civil Society Platform which takes place in Brussels 9-10 December 2013. More news coming soon.
Twenty five religious women and co-workers representing fourteen European countries, Albania, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and UK, came together having one ministry in common, that of ‘Combating Human Trafficking’. All are members of RENATE.
We gathered in this small village of Čičmany, Northern Slovakia from East, Central and Western Europe to learn about Catholic Social Teaching, Spirituality of Fundraising and to support one another in ministry. We gathered to listen to stories from respective countries, to celebrate together through liturgy, through cultural trips, to support each other in ministry and to enjoy companionship.
Some participants are front line workers offering shelter and support to women who have been the victims of this horrendous crime and who return home psychologically damaged and penniless. Some run shelters supporting women who were lucky enough to escape from their traffickers. Some of the participants were women who work in source countries and so work on preventative programmes with vulnerable women and children. Other participants work to raise awareness responding to requests for talks in universities, schools, media, youth, and other groups. One participant is a volunteer in the UK with PACE (Parents against Child Sexual Exploitation) formerly known as CROP (Coalition for the Removal of Pimping) and one other participant works with the Roma Community in Slovakia.
It was a most enriching experience both from the input and the sharing of stories. We were delighted to welcome on Monday, Imelda Poole IBVM (Loreto), Albania; Marie Helene Halligon rbp, France; and Mary Patricia Mulhall csb, UK who had returned from the workshop in Rome, called by Pope Francis on ‘The Trafficking in Human Beings.’ We caught their energy, enthusiasm and inspiration when they gave input the following morning sharing a little of what they had experienced at this workshop and of their face to face meeting with Pope Francis. The message of HOPE was palpable. The Catholic Church is active in raising awareness of Human Trafficking but could be far more active given our global network as a Church. Pope Francis thankfully has voiced strong words to both legislators and to those criminals responsible for Human Trafficking. He is calling for people to see anti human trafficking efforts as prophetic ministry. So why should we care and be involved in this ministry? We care because human trafficking involves the most serious exploitation of human rights. It is the trade in and abuse of human beings by criminals to make money. Human trafficking threatens women men and children.
We were privileged to have Fr. Donal Dorr, member of St. Patrick’s Missionary Society, Theologian, active member of the Irish anti-trafficking group APT, and author of many books to lead us with input on the development of Catholic Social Teaching, followed by very engaging discussions. Donal in his own unique way took us through a brief historical outline of key issues in Catholic Social Teaching from 1891 up till now.
We recalled the familiar words of the Popes on Trafficking in Persons:
Pope John Paul II, 2002 said “Trade in human persons constitutes a shocking offence and a grave violation of fundamental human rights. Such situations are an affront to fundamental values which are shared by all cultures and peoples, values rooted in the very nature of the human person”.
Pope Francis, Easter 2013 “Human trafficking is the most extensive form of slavery in this twenty first century” and again in May 2013 Pope Francis said “I affirm here that the ‘trade in people’ is a vile activity, a disgrace to our societies that clam to be civilized”.
Pope Francis was able to voice those strong words because of his own experience living alongside the poor and his listening to priests, sisters, brothers and lay leaders working on the margins of society. We were reminded that ‘prophetic ministry’ is about what we are doing on the ground – we live in the cracks of the institute; we experience the pain of those with whom we are working. “The official social teaching of the Church has its basis in the active prophetic ministry of people and movements on the ground. Theologians reflect on this ministry and express it in words. This feeds back to Church authorities and so leads on to official teaching” (Donal Dorr).
We looked at the prophets and ‘life energy’ in the Old Testament Jer 19:10, Ezek 24:3-6; Ezek 37;1-10; how harsh words of condemnation eventually bring comfort and hope to the people, especially the poor; “for to condemn those who are engaged in exploitation is to bring solace to those who are their victims” (Donal Dorr). We then reflected on Jesus and like the prophets in the Old Testament he challenged the civil and religious authorities of his country. He brought compassion, comfort and ‘Good News’ to those who were sick, disabled, economic migrants or political refugees, women engaged in prostitution and those despised and outcast. He performed miracles, and lived and walked among the poor. In other words he echoed or lived what he was preaching – he followed the prophetic way. He brought great hope to those who were downcast or poor.
We too are asked to bring that same Good News, which will comfort and bring hope to victims of abuse today. Many followers of Jesus down to this present day have felt themselves called to continue this prophetic tradition. “The call is one of inspiring the community to transform society, bringing new life, hope and energy; ensuring that governments and society live by the values of special concern of the poor, as well as justice and reconciliation. As Christians, we believe all of us have been given a share in the prophetic ministry of Jesus. We are called to be prophets”. RENATE and other networks working to bring about an end to this dreadful crime of human trafficking could be named among the prophets.
Donal emphasised the need for us as Christians to develop a spirituality centred on human rights as this touches people’s hearts today. Love and anger are two sides of the same coin – if we have compassion for those who are abused then we have a right to be angry/outraged about Human Trafficking. We recalled examples such as:
‘Respect for Human Dignity’ is key to Human Rights. What we mean by respect varies in different cultures. This initiated much discussion and by the end of the week participants asked to have a training on how to effect cultural change in source and destination countries. This request no doubt will be taken up by the Working Board of RENATE.
Fr. Milan Bubák took us through a journey of See – Judge – Act Process, a social analysis method he used for writing a booklet on human trafficking. He explained the stages of his work on this subject, at the time when he served as the Coordinator for Justice and Peace and Integrity of Creation, for his congregation in Rome. It was very helpful and encouraging especially to these who are new workers in the field.
Fr. Milan made us thinking on all the aspects of two days lectures and discussion on Catholic Social Teaching by integrating questions for personal reflection:
The fact that the venue was in Eastern Europe gave the conference a very particular context. Two Religious Sisters from the Slovakian Conference of Religious, Sr. Justína Kostúrová OP, Sr. Ivica Kúšiková SspS gave a presentation on the horrendous torture experienced by Sisters under the communist regime. We were left spellbound, horrified and full of compassion. Sr. Bohdana Bezáková, our host, gave us an insight of her work in anti-trafficking in Slovakia. She is assigned to this task by the Slovakian Conference of Religious. We had a chance to see some results of her hard work during our visit to one of the shelters.
On our final day Imelda Poole and Ivonne van de Kar introduced us to the concept of ‘The Spirituality of Fundraising’ and led the group through a basic dynamic for preparing the documents for fundraising. The focus for the latter was on the goals and objectives for a given project and the budget. It was a dynamic which led the participants to work in groups and support each other in project development. The energy in the group was tangible and it was moving to see East and West Europe coming together in this work. The focus for the topic, ‘The Spirituality of Fundraising’ was based on a book written by Henri Nouwen called ‘The Spirituality of Fundraising’. The themes ranged from the call to conversion for both the donator and the one applying for funding as all are called to be engaged in this work for justice in the mission which is all part of God’s work in the birthing of the kingdom of God in today’s world. It is a call to humility, to ethical behaviour, truth and transparency. It is a call to networking and working in community for a common goal and objectives leading to a greater good.
Time together as East, West and Central European representatives working in the field of anti- trafficking was time well spent. We valued Donal’s own words to conclude our efforts.
We are called to have: “respect for human dignity
compassion, reverence, tenderness, empowerment,
a sense of solidarity with humans and with the rest of creation
concern for the common good and the right to participate in decision-making”.
The killings continue, each second
pain and misfortune extend themselves
in the genetic chain, injustice is done knowingly, and the air
bears the dust of decayed hopes,
yet breathing those fumes, walking the thronged
pavements among crippled lives, jackhammers
raging, a parking lot painfully agleam
in the May sun, I have seen
not behind but within, within the
dull grief, blown grit, hideous
concrete facades, another grief, a gleam
as of dew, an abode of mercy,
have heard not behind but within noise
a humming that drifted into a quiet smile.
Nothing was changed, all was revealed otherwise;
not that horror was not, not that killings did not continue,
but that as if transparent all disclosed
an otherness that was blessed, that was bliss.
I saw Paradise in the dust of the street.
Training Booklets available here:
Four members of RENATE attended a conference organised by the Ministry of Interior of Poland, the Governments of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, the Council of Europe, and the International Organization for Migration. The aim of this conference was to provide a platform for the exchange of knowledge and best practices as regards protection of the rights of victims of trafficking in line in with the second “P” (protection) of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings.
Clear and consistent protection of the rights of victims of trafficking in human beings is essential. The Council of Europe Convention sets specific rights including emergency assistance, safe accommodation, compensation, legal redress and rehabilitation. About 200 participants from 35 countries discussed the substantive content of these measures. In this regard, the discussions were focused on four related themes:
Identification of victims of trafficking with a specific focus on labour exploitation
Human trafficking occurs where there is a possibility for financial gain through the exploitation of persons for work. It takes various forms and victims may be found in many different sectors and activities. Even if over time there have been advances in the development of procedures for identification of victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation, there is relatively less experience with regard to identification of victims of trafficking for labour exploitation. Hence, one challenge rests in ensuring that representatives of institutions whose jobs involve contact with persons who may be trafficking victims have the expertise necessary to detect risk factors and refer this information to those competent to formally identify victims. Identification helps to prevent further exploitation and ensures that the victims are informed of their rights and can be referred to an appropriate specialized agency for further assistance.
Taking these considerations as the starting point, the discussion focused, among others, on:
Standards of safe accommodation for victims of trafficking
One of the first steps to be taken in respect of victims wishing to escape from the control of traffickers is to provide a safe and secure shelter. Despite the prospect of continued abuse, many victims decide to stay with the traffickers because leaving can involve more danger and greater vulnerability. The lack of appropriate accommodation often results in victims returning to their abusers after an initial escape,. It is therefore crucial that real and practical options for safety and security are made available to different categories of victims of trafficking. Each victim is unique and requires and desires bespoke assistance.
The discussion focused on:.
Legal redress and compensation
A human rights-based approach puts the human rights of trafficked persons at the centre of all efforts to prevent and combat trafficking and to protect, assist and provide redress to victims. It also entails the effective prosecution of traffickers, putting the emphasis on the right to effective remedy for the victim. The Council of Europe Convention provides for the right of victims of trafficking to compensation from the perpetrators as well as compensation from the State. However currently, the challenge rests in the procedures that provide trafficked persons to receive redress and compensation in a holistic manner, but are only provided with ad hoc measures which are primarily aimed at facilitating criminal investigation. At present, even when there are possibilities in law for granting compensation to victims, in practice this right remains theoretical and few victims benefit from compensation schemes.
Taking these considerations as the starting point, the discussion focused on:
Ensuring victims’ rehabilitation and safe return
When it comes to discussing long-term solutions with the victims of human trafficking there are different options that should be made available to them: integration, move to another country in which the victim has a residence permit, return to the country of origin. All alternatives should be in principal equally accessible and valid to them.
Some victims of human trafficking might be vitally interested in returning home. The Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration programme offers them such a possibility. Such services are always based on victims’ informed consent and are extended only to those who have freely chosen to return home. Yet, return of the victim of human trafficking to the country or community of origin is not always the optimal solution. While considering return, all possible threats related to becoming victimised a second option should be always taken into account. Victims who express an inability or unwillingness to return should be offered alternative, safe and efficient options. Whatever alternative is considered, it should be analysed together with a risk analysis and, if necessary, a risk-management plan. In this regard mainstream social services and labour market also has a role to play. These challenges were addressed during the discussion.
Full description including conference materials can be found here: Putting Victims First The summary of the discussions will be available in English, Russian and Polish at the conference website www.victimsfirst.pl at the beginning of next year.