Holy See Mission to the United Nations hosts signing of Memorandum of Understanding between leading charity and US law enforcement to further collaboration in the struggle to eradicate human trafficking and modern slavery

Santa Marta Group agree partnership with Homeland Security Investigations

Santa Marta Group and the US Federal body responsible for the criminal enforcement of crimes relating to human trafficking have signed a partnership agreement in the prevention of human trafficking.
Homeland Security Investigations signed the partnership agreement with SMG at the Holy See Mission to the United Nations in New York. The agreement formalises the relationships between Santa Marta and HSI that have been forged since the launch of SMG in 2014.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, President of Santa Marta Group, said: “With criminal profits of over $150bn 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 the profit 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 defence of human dignity."
Steve Francis, Acting Executive Associate Director of Homeland Security Investigations, said: “The signing of this agreement 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.”
Archbishop Caccia, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, who hosted the signing, said: “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. Children, women, and men are trafficked every day around the globe, in developing and developed countries alike, as a result of conflict, poverty, corruption, statelessness, lack of education or employment opportunities, as well as migration and smuggling. Moreover, the demand that fosters trafficking is multi-faceted. Some forms of human trafficking, for example sex trafficking for sexual exploitation or trafficking for the purposes of forced or compulsory labor, are well known. However, there are new growing forms of trafficking, such as trafficking in newborn babies and in women who serve as surrogates, that do require further attention and action. “Trafficking is a complex problem. The fight against it must be grounded in a multidimensional and coordinated approach. In this regard, partnerships and collaboration between States and stakeholders, especially law enforcement authorities and faith-based organizations, have been a crucial tool in the fight against trafficking and must be strengthened. The Memorandum of Understanding that the Santa Marta Group and Homeland Security Investigations have signed is another fundamental step in this direction. The Holy See Mission is delighted to host this important signing ceremony marking the formal recognition of a longstanding cooperation that has already brought much needed assistance to the victims of trafficking and will continue to do so.”
HSI conducts investigations into both individuals and organized criminal gangs involved in sex trafficking and forced labor as well as imports of goods into the United States produced by modern slavery, including forced or indentured child labor. Santa Marta Group’s aim is to prevent human trafficking by acting as a catalyst through strategic collaborations with Government Agencies, Non-Governmental Organizations, businesses and civil society across the world, promoting effective models from grassroots to the national and international level to prevent human trafficking and associated criminal acts.
Both parties recognise the importance of using US laws and their influence to combat these practices internationally. HSI intends to engage with Santa Marta to promote its global strategy for eradication of human trafficking, including in supply chains and business worldwide.
SMG, recognising HSI’s enforcement role, will work co-operatively and share any intelligence on human trafficking from the grass roots both of individuals and also where goods produced under conditions of modern slavery are brought into supply chains.