On Friday, March 10th at 7:30 p.m., the Grand Concert to Eradicate Trafficking in Persons took place at Victoria Hall in Geneva. The event was organized by the Catholic Parish Saint Clotilde in collaboration with the Order of Malta, Blue Heart (Campaign of UNODC for victims of human trafficking), and the City of Geneva. The Grand Concert was attended by more than 1,200 people, including several Ambassadors (among them the Permanent Representatives of Mexico and Uruguay and the Permanent Observer of the Sovereign Order of Malta, Ambassador M.T. Pictet Althann). Ambassador Jean-Phillipe Tissières, Representative of the Order to the Swiss Confederation, and Mrs. Johanna de Gautard and Maria Claudia de Saint Périer, Chiefs of the Geneva Section of Swiss Auxiliary Service of the Order of Malta (SHOMS), were also in attendance with other Members of the Order and SHOMS. Furthermore, the Rector of the Geneva University and Colonel Monica Bonfanti, Chief of the Geneva Police, also participated. She made a very powerful statement, announcing an event against human trafficking in Geneva in September.
Before the Concert started, Professor Michel Veuthey, the Ambassador of the Order of Malta to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, had the opportunity to speak before the audience. In this speech, the Ambassador highlighted the severity of modern slavery, which is an ever-growing issue that we must continuously address. The Ambassador cited the UK’s first independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Kevin Hyland, highlighting that “human trafficking is an ignored crime because it affects marginalized people, and we all benefit from this crime in some way.”
The Ambassador then continued by explaining how contemporary slavery affects millions of people in different forms—including through organ theft, forced labor in a variety of industries, the sale and abduction of children, and through sexual slavery of both children and adults. These crimes generate more than $150 billion in profits, serving as an incentive for criminals. The Ambassador contextualized the magnitude of human trafficking by comparing the profits to the economic output of Portugal and by comparing the number of people involved to the population of Spain. The also Ambassador discussed how approximately 71% of victims of contemporary slavery are women and girls. Furthermore, Professor Veuthey quoted H.H. Pope Francis on the causes of human trafficking, namely producers’ desire for endless profits and our consumer culture where waste is rampant.
Lastly, the Ambassador of the Order of Malta informed the audience of the Order’s work to combat and prevent human trafficking. This includes the Order’s work supporting a shelter for women victims in Nigeria, providing material and psychological assistance to victims and survivors, welcoming refugees at the borders, supporting a prevention campaign for Ukrainian women and children, collaborating with religious congregations in the field, creating free online courses and seminars with international experts to increase awareness of this plague, and training and educating people on how to better prevent and combat human trafficking. The Ambassador emphasized the importance of training for governments and civil society organizations to adequately address and fight against human trafficking.
The Concert was followed by a reception where we received positive feedback.