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10 April 2014

Human trafficking an open wound on society, Pope Francis tells conference

VATICAN CITY – Addressing the second Combating Human Trafficking conference attended by police chiefs from around the world, Pope Francis described human trafficking as ‘a crime against humanity’ and ‘an open wound on the body of contemporary society’.

The two-day conference (9 and 10 April) organized by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and hosted by the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences concluded today with a declaration of commitment to ‘eradicate the scourge of this serious criminal activity, which abuses vulnerable people’.

“Our meeting today includes law enforcement authorities, who are primarily responsible for combating this tragic reality by a vigorous application of the law,” said Pope Francis.

“It also includes humanitarian and social workers, whose task it is to provide victims with welcome, human warmth and the possibility of building a new life. These are two different approaches, but they can and must go together,” added Pope Francis.

In his speech to the conference on the opening day, INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble told delegates ‘we are allies in a global fight to protect human life and dignity’.

“This conference has provided us all with a renewed impetus to unite in our efforts to combat human trafficking and rescue victims from what is a form of modern day slavery,” said Mr Noble.

With raising public understanding of the issue a key component in preventing these crimes, Secretary General Noble pointed to INTERPOL’s upcoming Turn Back Crime global awareness campaign to educate society about the ways in which organized crime infiltrates our daily lives.

During his mission to the Vatican City, Secretary General Noble was presented with a Papal Knighthood by Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, President of the Governorate of Vatican City State.

The INTERPOL Chief was named Knight Commander with Star of the Sacred Equestrian Order of St Gregory the Great, one of the five Orders of Knighthood of the Holy See, an award bestowed by the Pope for conspicuous service to society.