Holy See Mission to the United Nations hosts signing of Memorandum of Understanding between leading charity and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to further collaboration in the struggle to eradicate human trafficking and modern slavery.
Representatives from the Santa Marta Group and the United States Homeland Security Investigations gathered at the Holy See Mission to the United Nations on Wednesday, February 15, 2023 to sign a crucial partnership agreement in the prevention of human trafficking.
The Santa Marta Group is a charity fostering alliances between law enforcement, civil society, and the Catholic Church around the world to eradicate human trafficking and modern-day slavery. Cardinal Vincent Nichols, president of Santa Marta Group, was present for the memorandum signing, along with Mr. Steve Francis, the Acting Executive Associate Director of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the entity of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security responsible for the criminal enforcement of crimes relating to human trafficking.
“Cooperation between the Church on my part and law enforcement agencies has always been at the very heart of this developing movement of the Santa Marta Group,” said Cardinal Nichols. “This memorandum arrives out of a number of years of close cooperation and growing friendship,” he said.
“With criminal profits of over $150 billion a year, combating human trafficking requires moral leadership and collaboration across all sectors. To achieve those points of cooperation that will bring about the confiscation of what Pope Francis always calls ‘blood money’ and help the victims of this scourge on society depends upon partnerships based on trust. It is precisely this trusting relationship established between Santa Marta Group and HSI over the past few years that has brought us to this agreement.
“It offers a model of how working together can effect change and is geared directly to combating this evil crime, healing the wound of human trafficking, and encouraging the defense of human dignity.”
In his remarks, Mr. Francis echoed the Cardinal that the signing of the memorandum underscores the shared goal of HSI and the Santa Marta Group to eradicate human trafficking across the globe. “It demonstrates how law enforcement and the faith-based community, working together, can bring awareness and prevention of human trafficking, justice to its perpetrators, and relief to its survivors,” Mr. Francis said.
Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, who hosted the signing, said that “Trafficking in persons is a crime and a violation of the victims’ dignity, human rights, and fundamental freedoms. Trafficking does not have borders, nor does it have one single cause. The fight against it must be grounded in a multidimensional and coordinated approach. The Holy See Mission is delighted to host this important signing ceremony marking the formal recognition of long-standing cooperation that has already brought much-needed assistance to the victims of trafficking and will continue to do so.”