Pope Francis Calls for Action to Combat Human Trafficking

Washington, D.C. – On New Year’s Day and World Day of Peace, Human Rights First welcomes Pope Francis’ call for an end to modern day slavery. The call came in a papal message given today applauding the international community’s existing efforts to combat human trafficking and urging global mobilization of States, intergovernmental bodies, nongovernmental organizations, and businesses to improve individual efforts and to work in concert to bring every level of actor within trafficking’s global criminal network to justice.

“We applaud Pope Francis for bringing attention to the scope of this human rights problem. Human trafficking is a global affliction and a growing business that affects every country around the world, including the United States,” said Human Rights First’s Amy Sobel. “We urge the U.S. government to work together with the international community, law enforcement, business, and the financial sector to take action to disrupt the criminal networks that profit from modern day slavery.”

In his message, Pope Francis acknowledged the advancements of international law to combat trafficking, while highlighting the many victims susceptible to it in our modern world. The speech sought to emphasize scope of modern day slavery, mentioning men, women, or children who are trapped in slavery “formally or informally, in domestic or agricultural workplaces, or in the manufacturing or mining industry.

Pope Francis called for the international community to address human trafficking by taking the following steps:

  • Despite the extensive nature of the enterprise, public awareness continues to be minimal, to change this, nongovernmental organizations should dedicate efforts to raising the issue in public dialogue.
  • States must uphold or create laws that maintain the dignity each person, including those who are survivors of human trafficking.
  • As trafficking is an enterprise that violates international borders, Intergovernmental bodies must work in concert if it is to be effectively combated.
  • Because victims are deprived of their freedom in both illicit and legitimate arenas, businesses must guarantee that forms of human trafficking do not enter their distribution chains.

Pope Francis’ message comes as 2015 marks the 150th anniversary of passage of the 13th amendment to the Constitution abolishing slavery in the United States. Throughout the upcoming year, Human Rights First will press the U.S. government to honor its responsibility to end slavery by working with its partners, public and private, to dismantle every link in this $150 billion scourge. Human Rights First’s policy blueprint titled, “How to Disrupt the Business of Human Trafficking” outlines steps the U.S. government can take to weaken every link of the human trafficking supply chain and put traffickers out of business.


Published on January 1, 2015


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