On Wednesday, November 30th, the Sovereign Order of Malta, alongside the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue, hosted an event titled “Human Trafficking and Human Rights.” at Varembé 1’s Conference Room in Geneva.
The Ambassador against Human Trafficking, Prof. Michel Veuthey, moderated the event. He began by calling back to the Palermo Protocols to define human trafficking and its effects on today’s society.
After Ambassador Veuthey, Mr. Umesh Palwankar spoke. He described the work his organization, the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue, does to stop and prevent human trafficking. This think tank provides training, consulting services, and reports on human rights developments and conferences. They have created a platform for “intercultural and interreligious dialogue on current, vital human rights issues.”
After Dr. Palwankar, Rev. Msgr. Robert J, Vitillo, Secretary General to the International Catholic Migration Commission took the floor. Msgr. Vittilo reiterated how human trafficking is antithetical to human rights. He then identified the root factors of human trafficking: namely extreme poverty, unequal access to basic human rights, and lack of birth registration. Msgr. Vittilo also identified a business culture solely focused on profit and the ignorance of consumers as root causes of human trafficking. He finished his speech by reminding the audience that we have a collective responsibility to end this human rights disaster.
Mrs. Paola Fudakowska followed Msgr. Vitillo. Her focus was on Switzerland’s recent steps to address human trafficking. She gave an overview of the Swiss due diligence obligations, introduced in January 2023, and gave some examples of claims seeking corporate responsibility. She closed her talk by examining the impact of these new Swiss regulations.
Mrs. Alisa Gbiorczyk came next. She discussed her organization, Cyber Nitewatch, and the impact it has had on human trafficking. She detailed her experience in this organization, capturing traffickers and rescuing victims. She also described her experience working for other bodies that advocate for human rights, including the International Survivors of Trafficking Advisory council and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).
Mrs. Ena Lucia Mariaca Pacheco closed out the session. She shared her personal experiences that drove her to join the fight against human trafficking. More specifically, she advocates for male victims of human trafficking. In her experience, she has found that male victims of this scourge are underrepresented and seldom have access to the resources they need to seek justice and heal. Overall, Mrs. Pacheco underscores the urgency of addressing human trafficking, challenges gender biases, and advocates for a more inclusive and compassionate approach to supporting all survivors.
Here you can find the full recorded event.