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Church can help educate and blow the whistle on human trafficking say police

VATICAN CITY (CNS): “The Catholic Church has a huge role to play with 1.1 billion Catholics across the world. With their networks they can make (society) hostile to traffickers and be safe havens for victims,” said a young British woman who was tricked into prostitution in Italy. She was one of a number of speakers at a May 8 Vatican conference on combating human trafficking. 

Organised by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and hosted by the pontifical councils for Justice and Peace and for Migrants and Travellers, the meeting brought together ambassadors, bishops, representatives from religious congregations, Caritas organisations and law enforcement agencies involved in fighting human trafficking. 

According to the United Nations, human trafficking is now the second most profitable global criminal activity after the illegal arms trade and it is estimated that more than 2.4 million men, women and children are ensnared by traffickers worldwide. 

Kevin Hyland, a detective inspector from Scotland Yard’s trafficking and organised crime unit, said that a new partnership between the bishops’ conference in Britain and the police has already yielded results. 

He added that following an anti-trafficking conference hosted by the bishops in London last December, Scotland Yard was able to break up a Filipino human trafficking ring. 

Through their contacts with the bishops, Philippine embassy officials in London met with Hyland and were able to assure about 80 Filipino victims that they would be safe in reporting what they knew about their abusers without fear of deportation and other immigration issues. 

Hyland said that more can be done to coordinate groups assisting police in prevention and awareness. He said that Scotland Yard has a new system of direct reporting where non-government organisations and faith-based groups can notify police directly about suspected exploitation. 

Police need to know more about which groups are assisting victims so as to “bring those resources together and stop people from being trafficked” and bring criminals to justice, Hyland explained......

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