In April of this year Pope Francis hosted a two-day human trafficking conference, titled ‘Church and Law Enforcement in Partnership’. The conclusion of this opulent two-day conference was law enforcement chiefs from all over the world, including An Garda Síochána and the PSNI, signing the ‘Santa Marta Commitment’ to work with the Catholic Church to combat human trafficking.
The lavish proceedings continued this week, with a second ‘Santa Marta Group’ two-day conference, this time hosted by the Home Office in Lancaster House in London.
The Santa Marta Group is the creation of Kevin Hyland, at the time of the April conference a police officer and head of the Metropolitan Police’s Human Trafficking Unit. Mr Hyland has since retired from the police and was recently appointed the UK’s first Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner. Last week it was decided that Northern Ireland will not have its own rapporteur on trafficking, it will instead fall under Mr Hyland’s UK-wide remit.
The Santa Marta Group appears to be the most thinly veiled of anti sex work initiatives merely dressed up as being about trafficking to make it more palatable.