Last 10 March 2017 bishops from Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa and Swaziland met at Maputo for a "Training and sharing day about human trafficking" affecting our areas.
Below, the report prepared by Fr Peter-John Pearson, Vicar General of the archdiocese of Cape Town and director of the Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office (Cape Town).
By Fr Peter-John Pearson
A background note: This meeting was inspired in large part by the larger, international work being done by the Santa Marta Group which seeks to enhance the political will to fight this form of modern slavery. It is specially focussed on church/police/legislation/policy dimensions. This meeting is part of a series of meetings designed to offer regions the opportunity to zoom in on their particular relationships, policies and mutual engagements around fighting trafficking in persons. Members of the Santa Marta group in Mozambique, funded by CAFOD took the lead in organising this meeting. It was well thought through and was in fact the right constellation of participants since for one, SA looms very large in the trafficking in persons (TIP) activities of the region.
A very important dimension of the meeting was that it provided an opportunity for the bishops of various countries, to draw up an inventory of the TIP dynamics in their area for both transnational and internal practises. This is important since one has to be quite accurate in responding to TIP practises and policies to fight them and this demands focus. I observed two important aspects in this regard. Not only was there important and accurate ‘mapping’ of the problem, thus allowing for focussed responses. Also there emerged a shared language in describing the realities and an obvious set of shared values in assessing the problems and in providing a language of response. This from a practical point of view but also from a CST point of view, it is important since it builds up an important hegemonic narrative around something that is in some circles, contested.
As for the content of the meeting. We established that Mozambique is on a very busy transit route from Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea. Bishops spoke of their experiences on this route and the hectic sex tourism in the resorts and trafficking internal and external to these resorts. In these instances Mozambique serves as a destination. We had a well-researched paper on trafficking in human organs which is a growing trade in Mozambique. We also had insights from a civil society activist (who was also the facilitator) on the integrated road map to deal with this issue and who questioned some of the assumptions of the various speakers from a very grassroots perspective. This very subtly added to the richness of the insight into Mozambique’s problems but a close listening also pointed to shared problems on the ground! The key note address was from a senior prosecutor of the Chief Prosecutor’s Office dealing with HT and migration. She detailed Mozambique’s policy development, the growing will to prosecute, the public profiling of this scourge so as to counter denialism. She spoke of pilot projects for integrated responses eg legal, medical and psychological, proposed for the capitals of the various provinces. It was a most interesting contribution. It covered the 4 important P’s in this field: prevention, protection, prosecution, partnerships. In all the papers SA emerged as the key destination and the lure of SA loomed large in all the discussions. The need for a better exchange of intelligence, a greater will on the part of SA border authorities, the spectre and practice of corruption all complicated the combatting of TIP.
All the participants presented reports on the practise of TIP and on various responses. It was encouraging to hear just how much is being done on diocesan and national level especially in what can broadly be called the pastoral response. Much more needs to be done to develop national legislation and a huge amount needs to be done in synchronising policies and legislative responses in the SADC region so as to really deal with the problem appropriately.
There is an obvious need for closer collaboration between these IMBISA countries at all levels. Plans were put forward for pastoral responses across borders, for the greater use of social media and for advocacy to heighten the political will and continued refinement of policies to provide for more effective strategies to combat HT. Since it was the first of the regional meetings it provided a very valuable opportunity to focus on the contextual dimensions and strengthen regional political will. We are also aware that it is such meetings that will provide strength and insight for the Santa Marta group.
It is also of interest that the national Justice and Peace Commission of Mozambique took the opportunity to call a meeting on the side to speak about work with Parliament, MPs and people in the public domain. Bishop Luiz of Pemba in the north of the country who is the bishop president of J&P Commission asked to meet with me about the way CPLO functions in SA. He was joined by two of their staff and a secretary who took minutes of this meeting. Their key intention at the moment is to find ways of letting MPs across party lines (many of whom are Catholic) to get to know the Catholic Social Teaching (CST). They will be hosting a series of seven seminars on various themes of interest to MPs (hopefully) and to relate them to CST. Those I noted were peacebuilding (of critical importance at the moment when there is great political and social fragility), corruption, education, the role of the Holy See in diplomatic efforts for a new world order. They feel that this is the best way of engaging politics in their structure and they aim to ‘educate consciences.’ Down the line they might consider something more CPLO (Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office) like. It was a great meeting because they were really interested in various models of advocacy and a theology of advocacy. I explained the key characteristics of our model. I was fortunate to have Bishop Jose Luis of Swaziland interpreting and adding some very useful insights.
Over supper in the evening we were fortunate enough with members of the San Egidio community to also gain some insights into the work around establishing a viable peace in Mozambique. The Saint Egidio community together with the Nuncio and SA have been involved in this quest. It was interesting to pick up albeit briefly on the inside track of the process.
Click below for photos of the meeting