July 07, 2016
Human trafficking is a crime shaming us all. It consists of recruiting, transporting, transferring, harboring or receiving a person through a use of force, deception or other means for the purpose of exploiting them. Human trafficking has many faces as each year, thousands of men, women and children fall into the hands of traffickers, in their own countries and abroad. Every country in the world is affected by trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit or destination for victims.
The garment industry, at home and abroad, has been, sadly, an ideal setting for human trafficking. Shrouded in secrecy, the supply chain reaps rewards for brands and consumers at a devastating cost to workers. At several points in the supply chain from the cotton field to the retailer, human trafficking is prevalent. Forced labor is even found in varied elements like fabric dyeing and the mining of minerals for zippers and snaps.
The Human Thread works vigorously alongside partners like U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking and within the Coalition of Catholic Organizations Against Human Trafficking regarding this important issue.
The Blue Heart represents the sadness of those who are trafficked while reminding us of the cold-heartedness of those who buy and sell fellow human beings. The use of the blue UN color also demonstrates the commitment of the United Nations to combating this crime against human dignity.
July 07, 2016
The Human Thread has endorsed a letter from the Cotton Campaign that urges the World Bank to take vital steps to end the forced labor in the Uzbek cotton industry. A coalition comprised of human rights organizations, trade unions, socially responsible investors and business associations, the Cotton Campaign works to end forced labor of children and adults in the cotton industry in Uzbekistan. Last year, Uzbekistan earned $835.4 million in cotton exports, eleventh among countries world-wide. A detailed report, “The Cover-Up: Whitewashing Uzbekistan’s White Gold,” documents systemic abuses in the supply chain from that same year.
Clearly, additional steps must be taken by those with leverage to bring about change. Therefore, The Human Thread joins with the Cotton Campaign in calling upon the World Bank to take six steps for action in Uzbekistan:
The World Bank Group is providing more than $500 million in financing to the government of Uzbekistan for its agriculture sector and additional financing to multinational companies processing forced-labor cotton in Uzbekistan.
Suspend disbursements until the Uzbek government demonstrates meaningful progress reforming the root causes of forced labor, its financial system that incentivizes officials to use coercion and repression of citizens who report violations
Engage and work with the Uzbek government to develop and implement a time-bound plan to reform root causes of forced labor in the agriculture sector, including the steps recommended to the government here
Ensure robust and fully independent third-party monitoring of compliance with core labor conventions in the project areas
Establish a confidential and accessible grievance mechanism and provide effective remedies, including legal and financial, to any person who is subjected to forced labor in the project areas
Take all necessary measures to prevent reprisals against community members, journalists, and independent organizations for monitoring or reporting on human rights violations in these areas, for engaging with the Bank’s project monitors, or for filing complaints, including by seeking an enforceable commitment from the government that it will not interfere with independent reporting and engagement
Raise concerns about the safety and access of independent monitors publicly and at the highest levels and make clear that their ability to work unimpeded is a vital sign of the government’s good faith and requirement for World Bank financing
July 07, 2016
The International Labor Organization reports that 20.9 million women, men and children are trapped in modern-day slavery with jobs into which they were coerced or deceived and which they cannot leave. Of that number, 26%, or 5.5. million persons, are children. As well, the U.S. Department of Labor has found that Argentina, Bangladesh, India, Thailand, and Vietnam use trafficked children in the making of garments. Thus, we find it very hopeful that the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations hosted a conference last week on “Eliminating Trafficking of Children and Youth.”
From the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations:
On July 13, the Holy See sponsored an event at UN Headquarters in New York entitled Eliminating Trafficking of Children and Youth, in collaboration with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, ECPAT-USA, Salesians of Don Bosco, and the NGO Committee to Stop Trafficking in Persons, to discuss best methods in combatting the growing problem of children and youth falling victim to human trafficking.
“While human trafficking always exploits the vulnerable, the trafficking of children and youth exploits those most vulnerable of all,” Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN said in his opening statement. “This conference seeks to make real the faces of the nearly two million children and youth who are presently being trafficked and speak about what’s working, what’s not working, and what needs to be done to free them, help them recover, and prevent other young people from suffering as they have.”
Panelists included an array of experts who combat policy in different facets. Sheila McClain, a survivor of childhood trafficking now works to help other victims of trafficking as Director of Survivor Services of End Slavery Tennessee. Yu Ping Chan combats trafficking in her role with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, and shared the measures the UN takes to eliminate the scourge of trafficking. Sister Angela Reed from the Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans said the main cause of trafficking is demand and charted out what everyone could do to help prevent others from being absorbed into this form of modern slavery. Kevin Cassidy of the International Labour Organization focused on trafficking children for labor, noting the importance the private sector has in eliminating exploitation by paying attention to supply chains. Jayne Bigelsen, Director of Anti-Human Trafficking Initiatives at New York City’s Covenant House, emphasized the overwhelming number of homeless youth as those particularly susceptible to trafficking. Carol Smolenski of ECPAT-USA brought attention to how the Internet is misused by traffickers, but also how it can also aid in identifying predators and rescuing victims.
Source: Press release of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations
See also: America magazine had fine coverage of the conference here: The ‘Growing Scourge’ of Human Trafficking. Vatican Radio also provided coverage: Holy See: Trafficking of children is “abominable.”
July 07, 2016
The Human Thread’s campaign manager, Christopher Cox, appeared on the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Catholic Community of Faith program, a weekly program hosted by Fr. Greg Sakowicz, rector of Holy Name Cathedral. In the first segment, Fr. Greg and Chris talked about the 30th annual Social Action Summer Institute, “Who Is My Neighbor?” to be held at St. Xavier University July 17-21 and about the work of THT.
Listen here: http://files.archchicago.org/podcastfiles/podcastccof/20160708-CCOF.mp3
As well, Chris wrote for the Archdiocesan blog last week: http://www.archchicago.org/blog/comments.aspx?postID=661