Vatican City has recently hosted a Judges’ Summit against Human Trafficking and Organised Crime. A large number of key actors in the struggle against human trafficking forced labour and modern slavery – including judges, prosecutors and magistrates from different countries – have been invited by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.
Among the attendees of the two-day meeting – which started on June 3 − it is important to mention the attendance of a delegation from the United States, led by the Ambassador responsible for the Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, Susan Coppedge, the British High Commissioner against modern slavery, Kevin Hyland, the United Nations High Commissioner against Human Trafficking, Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, the President of the High Court of Justice in Mexico, and an Argentine delegation, chaired by the President of the Supreme Court of Justice, Ricardo Luis Lorenzetti. Finally, an Italian delegation was invited, too, which included the National Anti-Mafia Prosecutor, Franco Roberti, the Public Prosecutor of Rome, Giovanni Salvi, the magistrate Maria Monteleone, who specialises in crimes against women and children, and the anti-Mafia prosecutor Antonio Ingroia.
On the first day, Pope Francis took part to the meeting, addressing all the participants with a very powerful and inspiring speech. He called on their responsibilities in assuring justice to the victims of human trafficking and modern slavery. “Their traffickers and executioners must be given no quarter.” He pressured all the judges, political and religious leaders to work together, in order to fight against organised crime and all the criminals that make their fortune on the sufferance of their victims.
In particular, judges need to understand the importance of their role – in regard to the issue of human trafficking – and embrace it as a mission which involves prosecuting the traffickers and, most of all, assuring support and protection to the victims. Trafficked people “are the first in need of rehabilitation and reintegration in society” and it is the judges’ job to show them that our society condemn their captors and their crimes.
In addition, Pope Francis reminded the participants how important it is to act united against human trafficking and organised crime, especially now that awareness about the issue is growing, and that the UN have included it among the new Sustainable Development Goals, approved unanimously by 193 UN member states. Goal 8.7, in fact, shows the aim of the United Nations General Assembly to “take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms.”
Jeffrey Sachs, United Nations Representative and Economic Advisor to Ban Ki-Moon, also intervened about the Sustainable Development Goals and the UN Agenda 2030, introducing its means of implementation, the so called “3 Ps: prevention, protection and punishment.” In particular, the first point – prevention – refers to the necessity to address those peculiar social, cultural, economic and political factors that “make people vulnerable to trafficking in persons, such as poverty, unemployment, inequality, humanitarian emergencies, including armed conflicts, natural disasters, sexual violence and so on.”
The Pope and Jaffrey Sachs ’s interventions were followed by a sharing of information and experiences − by the different delegations who attended the meeting − about the measures existing in their countries countries to contrast organized crime and their traffics.
The Summit ended with a series of new proposals of actions to take in order to combat this global issue both on a national and transnational level.