- Catholic News Agency - Sunday, June 5, 2016

Vatican City - Pope Francis asked judges, prosecutors and magistrates gathered at the Vatican for a summit on human trafficking this week to remember that the victims always come first.

“The victims are the first who need to be rehabilitated and reintegrated into society — and their traffickers and executioners must be given no quarter and pursued,” the Holy Father said in his address to the judges on June 3.

“Victims can recover and in fact we know that they can regain control of their lives with the help of good judges, social workers and society as a whole,” he added.

The summit, organized by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, is the latest effort by Pope Francis and the Holy See to combat modern forms of slavery, including human trafficking, forced labor, the trade in organs and organized crime.

Pope Francis has repeatedly spoken out against human trafficking in the past, calling it a “shameful wound” which has no place in “civil society.”  

In his address on Friday, the Holy Father also expressed his thanks to the representatives of the 193 United Nations member states for their unanimously approved Goal 8.7 to end human trafficking, which reads: “Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labor, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labor in all its forms.”

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