Viewing cable 04VATICAN2518

04VATICAN25182004-06-30 04:38:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Vatican
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
DEPT FOR EUR/WE (Levin); G/TIP; ECA (A/S Harrison) 
E.O. 12958 N/A 
REF: A) Vatican 0733; B) State 59846 
1.(U) Embassy Vatican organized and hosted a 
conference on Human Trafficking June 17 that brought 
together three key elements in the fight against 
trafficking in human beings (TIP): faith-based communities 
as first responders for victims; the demand factor as a 
causal element in TIP; and the media's role in 
consciousness raising.  The "Call to Action" attracted 
nearly 200 participants, including senior Vatican and 
Italian government officials (including a former Italian 
Prime Minister), diplomats accredited to the Holy See, 
members of religious orders, and the media.  Attendees 
heard U.S., Vatican and Italian speakers make innovative 
and forceful arguments to educate and energize those 
already committed to anti-trafficking initiatives, and to 
stimulate the uninitiated to action.  Delegates viewed the 
department-recommended film "Lilya 4-Ever," as well as 
extracts from U.S. and European television network 
programming on the issue of trafficking.  Post appreciates 
ECA's support for this conference, which garnered extensive 
media coverage helping to enhance awareness and promote 
action against human trafficking.  End summary. 
Taking Action Against Trafficking 
2.(U) On June 17, Embassy organized the second of four 
2004 conferences marking twenty years of full diplomatic 
relations between the U.S. and the Holy See.  Held at the 
prestigious Jesuit-run Pontifical Gregorian University, "A 
Call to Action: Joining the Fight Against Trafficking in 
Persons" focused on ways in which religious communities, 
the media, and governments could take action to prevent and 
respond to trafficking in persons (TIP).  The conference 
drew a robust and enthusiastic crowd of nearly 200 senior 
Vatican and Italian government officials, diplomats 
accredited to the Holy See, and members of religious orders 
from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas.  Coming on the 
heels of the release of the Department's 2004 TIP Report, 
the conference served to multiply the public outreach of 
this report and the Secretary's presentation two days 
earlier.  The Ambassador highlighted the Report and the 
Department's priorities in his introductory comments, which 
emphasized the international dimensions of the problem and 
the need for active engagement from the Holy See and its 
worldwide religious communities. 
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Holy See Highlights Role of Faith-Based Communities 
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3.(U) In his keynote address, Holy See Deputy FM Pietro 
Parolin called for a multifaceted approach to trafficking, 
which he described as a grave violation of human rights and 
a threat to human dignity.  Parolin identified poverty, 
discrimination and underdevelopment as root causes of the 
phenomenon.  He praised international conventions and 
initiatives, but said that alone they were insufficient to 
tackle the problem, which he asserted would require 
cultural initiatives to affect attitudinal change in 
society.  Parolin pointed out that faith-based communities 
were often in the front line of anti-trafficking work, 
describing them as "first responders."  Parolin urged 
greater collaboration with faith-based organizations, 
presenting Post's current project to train women religious 
in anti-TIP work (ref a) as an example of a highly 
successful approach.  He concluded with a call to the media 
to promote positive behaviors and offer a message that 
enhanced human dignity. 
Faith-based Communities on Front Line 
4.(U) Following Parolin's call for further collaboration 
between faith-based communities and governments, German 
Ambassador to the Holy See Gerhard Westdickenberg moderated 
a session focused on the role of religious organizations in 
the TIP fight.  Italian nun Eugenia Bonetti (a G/TIP 2004 
anti-trafficking hero) and the International Organization 
for Migration's (IOM) Stefano Volpicelli gave a detailed 
presentation of a training program for nuns involved in 
anti-trafficking work (ref a).  They made it clear that 
religious workers were logical participants in this work 
because of their vocational choice in favor of the weakest 
and most marginalized members of society.  Moreover, their 
ability to engender trust among victims facilitated their 
engagement.  Sister Bonetti gave examples of how victims 
viewed nuns as unbiased and independent agents, untainted 
by the prejudices and stereotyping that often surrounds law 
enforcement and other government officials. 
5.(U) Mary Ellen Dougherty of the U.S. Conference of 
Catholic Bishops office for Migration and Refugee Services 
observed that the rationale behind Catholic social policy 
paralleled goals of secular agencies and governments, 
making partnership logical and effective.  Dougherty 
extolled the strength of faith-based initiatives to combat 
trafficking, noting that they were able to draw on 
extensive networks already in place.  Faith-based 
communities' access to a broad range of interested groups, 
organizations and individuals and their genuine "staying 
power" - their ability to remain committed and effective 
even continuous funding streams -- gave them unique 
strengths to wage a consistent battle against trafficking, 
she emphasized.  According to Dougherty, the Catholic 
Church and other religious organizations had three 
distinctive roles to play in the fight against trafficking: 
education (with the hierarchy or other religious leaders 
providing credibility and weight to anti-trafficking work); 
services to victims; and coalition building.  In a day in 
which participants heard many troubling stories, Dougherty 
also emphasized the positive, pointing out the significant 
increase in the number of people at all levels dedicated to 
the fight against trafficking. 
Confronting the Demand Side of TIP 
6.(U) Ambassador Desire Koumba of Gabon moderated the 
second session on the demand side of trafficking, noting 
the particular interest that he and his government took in 
TIP.  Donna Hughes, Professor of Women's Studies at the 
University of Rhode Island and author of a Department- 
sponsored TIP study, joined Dorchen Leidholdt, Executive 
Director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, to 
present their hypothesis that demand, including legal 
prostitution, generated and exacerbated trafficking in 
women for sexual exploitation.  Both speakers urged the 
adoption of legal sanctions against "exploiters" of women 
and cited the example of Sweden, which had effectively 
targeted the demand factor to fight prostitution and, 
consequently, trafficking, reducing the flow of trafficking 
into the country significantly. 
¶7.  (U) According to Leidholdt's powerful presentation, 
prostitution and sex trafficking are two sides of the same 
human rights catastrophe, whether one approaches the issue 
locally or globally.  Both, she said, were part of a system 
of gender-based domination that made violence against women 
and girls profitable.  Both preyed on women and girls made 
vulnerable by poverty, discrimination, and violence, 
leaving them traumatized, sick, and impoverished.  Both, 
she continued, rewarded predators sexually and financially, 
strengthening both the demand and criminal operations that 
ensured the supply of victims.  Leidholdt said the 
concerted effort by some NGOs and governments to 
disassociate prostitution from TIP, treating the two 
phenomena as distinct and unrelated, was a deliberate 
political strategy aimed at legitimizing the sex industry 
and protecting its growth and profitability.  This, she 
insisted, would inevitably lead to more trafficking victims 
as demand outstripped the supply of local women already 
"working" in the industry. 
8.(U) Hughes agreed that the demand for prostitution 
accounted for the profitability of sex trafficking.  She 
argued that the link between prostitution and sex 
trafficking was indisputable and would not be altered if 
prostitution were legalized.  She bolstered Leidholdt's 
case by citing examples from Europe and Oceania in which 
demand for prostitution -- and subsequently sex trafficking 
to meet this demand -- increased after the 
decriminalization of prostitution.  In response to theories 
that decriminalization of prostitution would help women by 
bringing them out of a shadowy world into the "care" of 
protective legislation, Hughes contended that such 
legalization in fact prompted very few women to sign up for 
benefits or unions.  Women and children in this "industry," 
she said, were inevitably controlled by mafias and 
criminals, and could not register with an authority or join 
a union.  With most women forced into this "work" due to 
debt, unemployment, or poverty, they have entered a 
coercive and abusive world completely incompatible with the 
fantasy of some benevolent unionization of prostitutes. 
The world of prostitution, Hughes concluded, was instead 
much more compatible with the tactics and realities of 
trafficking and sexual slavery. 
Media: Voice of the Voiceless 
9.(U) Following the presentation of recently-broadcast 
excerpts on TIP from three television programs (NBC NEWS 
Dateline, CNN Presents, and CBS NEWS/Miami), Italian 
Ambassador Giuseppe Balboni Acqua took the floor and 
introduced CBS Chief Investigative Reporter Michele Gillen 
and National Public Radio's Senior European Correspondent 
Sylvia Poggioli.  Gillen and Poggioli offered first-hand 
experiences of ways in which the media was currently 
addressing TIP, and insights into how the media could be 
further developed as a strategic weapon in this fight. 
Both stressed the need to present programming that avoided 
salaciousness, and noted the importance of utilizing 
reporting techniques that ensured victims featured in such 
programming were not victimized in a different way a second 
time by sharing their stories. 
¶10. (U) Gillen and Poggioli said that media in source 
countries were often afraid to report on trafficking 
because of threats from organized crime or corrupt 
authorities profiting from it.  Western media (most often 
in destination countries) thus had an obligation, they 
said, to increase the exposure of TIP stories.  One 
attendee suggested that more programming be developed by 
the West for source countries that could warn potential 
victims by showing the reality of the "jobs" that awaited 
unsuspecting women and others.  This could help counteract 
the "brainwashing" of advertisements, programming and news 
stories that depicted a West in which it was easy to find 
fortune.  Poggioli said that one victim had cited to her an 
Italian advertisement that showed a cat eating from an 
expensive silver bowl.  With that type of presentation 
broadcast to Albania and elsewhere in Europe, potential 
victims had come to believe that an easy life awaited them 
in the West. 
Film Hits Hard 
11.(U) Some 50 conference delegates used a "brown-bag" 
lunch break to view the G/TIP-recommended feature film 
"Lilya 4-Ever."  The hard-hitting film had particular 
impact on the members of women's religious orders who were 
the majority of viewers.  While time constraints prevented 
a formal session to analyze the movie, informal discussion 
between the shell-shocked viewers coming out of the film 
and other participants ensured that "Lilya 4-Ever" would 
get further attention. 
Extensive Media Coverage 
12.(U) Media coverage of the conference included print 
reports in U.S.-based Catholic and non-Catholic media, 
radio interviews with U.S. and Italian speakers, and 
television programming on Vatican-related and U.S. 
television networks.  The media session found particular 
resonance with representatives from this sector, many of 
whom indicated in the discussion session that they were 
thinking of ways to expand their reporting on TIP and anti- 
TIP efforts.  All speakers' presentations during the 
conference will be made available on the Embassy Vatican 
website and in EUR/WE. 
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Comment: Momentum will Increase "Multiplier Effect" 
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13.(U) Since Embassy Vatican's first conference on 
trafficking in May 2002, the issue has become a much higher 
priority for the Holy See and its related agencies.  The 
participation of Deputy Foreign Minister Parolin, the 
presence of Cardinal Martino who heads the Vatican Council 
of Justice and Peace, and enthusiastic interest of senior 
representatives from a number of women's religious orders 
augurs well for future collaboration between faith-based 
communities, the U.S. Government and the Vatican.  We were 
told during the conference that there are a million nuns 
around the world, all committed to the world's weakest and 
marginalized; in short, a powerful resource for the 
partnership between governments and faith-based communities 
to combat trafficking. 
¶14. (U) We look to use the substantial momentum from this 
well-attended conference to continue expanding the Holy 
See's involvement in anti-TIP work at various levels.  With 
the Vatican diplomatic corps becoming more engaged, and the 
vast network of Catholic religious orders, Bishops 
Conferences and Papal Nuncios becoming more aware of the 
problem, the "multiplier effect" of the Embassy's 
engagement has been substantial.  Already we have received 
many positive responses and inquiries from Papal Nuncios 
(Holy See ambassadors) and Embassies worldwide to the 
initiatives noted in ref (b).  Post thanks ECA its support 
for this conference and G/TIP for its considerable help in 
all of these endeavors.  End comment. 

 2004VATICA02518 - Classification: UNCLASSIFIED