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President warns scourge of modern slavery cannot be tolerated

We pretend that slavery is a thing of the past, or that it is a shameful part of humanity’s history which we can afford to put behind us, President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca says

jurgen
Jurgen Balzan
14 June 2017, 2:37pm
President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca said modern day slavery is not a challenge we can shy away from (DOI/ClodaghFarrugia O'Neill)
President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca said modern day slavery is not a challenge we can shy away from (DOI/ClodaghFarrugia O'Neill)
Too many children and adults are facing the scourge of modern-day slavery, President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca said in a speech during a summit entitled ‘Sharing Models and Best Practices to end Modern Slavery and restore Dignity to Its Victims’, organised by the Amersi Foundation, The Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and the President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society. 

“The scourge of slavery shall only keep growing, unless we take immediate action,” she said.

Noting that an estimated 11% of the overall child population is still affected, and more than half of them, approximately 85 million, are engaged in hazardous work, Coleiro Preca said “I believe that the international community cannot continue to be complacent, in the face of such serious crimes against humanity.”

Sub-Saharan Africa remains the region with the highest rate of child labour, with 21% of children employed as child labourers. Although the phenomenon of child labour is more commonly associated with non-EU countries, in spite of a lack of reliable comprehensive statistical sources, there is evidence - as declared by the European Parliamentary Research Service - that child labour persists in the EU and Europe as well.

Coleiro Preca said that it is not enough for international authorities to be aware, and call for awareness days, and added that “we must all increase our efforts to put words into practical action.”

She added that “we definitely cannot let our societies pretend that slavery is a thing of the past, or that it is a shameful part of humanity’s history which we can afford to put behind us.”

Quoting the Head of Operations and Emergencies for the International Organisation for Migration, Mohammed Abdiker, Coleiro Preca said the situation in Libya is “dire” with reports emerging from the North African country showing that human trafficking and smuggling are an endemic concern.

Moreover, there are shocking reports of organ trafficking, taking place in Lebanon, as refugees, in strict poverty, are forced into selling their organs, to get money to live on.  A report from Reuters, dated April 2017 states that “trade in illegal organs is a booming business in Lebanon.”

“Thinking that a great number of human beings are being subjected to the slave trade, a few miles from where we are now, on the southern shores of our Mediterranean Sea, with repercussions for Europe, and humanity at large, makes me feel, and should make Europe, all the more responsible to do much more,” Coleiro Preca said.

Pointing out that modern-day slavery is having a negative and far-reaching effect, on the peace of mind, and wellbeing of entire societies, Coleiro Preca said a huge amount of contemporary slavery in Europe is being driven by organised criminal groups which are directly profiting from the relentless exploitation of vulnerable people.

 Coleiro Preca said that these highly-sophisticated criminal networks are avoiding detection and prosecution, thus “taking advantage of the grey areas, and the complacency in our systems.”

 The President added that modern-day slavery thrives on extreme poverty and disadvantage. “Making modern slavery a thing of the past will require a fight against organised crime, but we must also fight the root causes, of poverty and precarity, which make a person vulnerable to exploitation in the first place,” Coleiro Preca said.

Underlining the framework provided by the United Nations’ Agenda 2030, and its Sustainable Development Goals, Coleiro Preca said “we must take action now, as one world, to end all forms of slavery, but we must also cooperate, across our nations, to achieve this important target within a clearly delineated timeframe.”

 Coleiro Preca encouraged everyone to do all that they can, to protect, to rescue and to support the victims of these horrible crimes, and to bring perpetrators to justice, as the scourge of modern slavery within our societies cannot be tolerated.

 “Modern day slavery is not a challenge we can shy away from, when so many millions of lives are being damaged and destroyed. The more we get involved, to address poverty and injustices, then the more effectively we shall be stopping traffickers. Let us all work together, to promote awareness, to inform and educate, and in the process, effectively support victims, their families, and humanity at large, to achieve practical results, for the benefit of both present and future generations,” the President said.

jurgen
Jurgen Balzan joined MaltaToday in 2011, specialising in politics, foreig...