CBIS Issues Call to Action to Hotels to Help Combat Human Trafficking at World Cup Events
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CBIS Issues Call to Action to Hotels to Help Combat Human Trafficking at World Cup Events

NEW YORK – April 21, 2010 – Christian Brothers Investment Services (CBIS), a leader in socially responsible investing (SRI) for Catholic institutions, has issued a call to action for hotel chains in South Africa to help combat a rise in human trafficking and child sex tourism in association with FIFA World Cup events being held throughout the country between June 11 and July 11, 2010. Human trafficking is one of CBIS’s priority issues and the presence of millions of tourists and spectators attending World Cup events is expected to greatly magnify the problem in the region.

CBIS has issued a letter to CEOs and owners of hotel chains in South Africa encouraging them to take swift and strong action to prevent the sexual exploitation of children and other human trafficking crimes. The letter encourages hotel chains to educate employees on the issues of human trafficking, train staff in identifying potential victims and reporting incidents to the proper authorities, work with local police, anti-trafficking organizations and child welfare agencies to share information, and inform guests of the penalties imposed for human trafficking and the sexual abuse of children under local and national law.

The letter has been signed by more than 300 socially responsible shareholders, including members of The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, an association of faith-based institutional investors, as well as by non-faith based investors and members of religious communities from across North America, Europe, and Africa, including the Counter Trafficking in Persons Desk of the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference and  Leaders of Consecrated Religious Life (SA), South African Council of Churches, Methodist Church of Southern Africa, and Central Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa.

The letter will be delivered to major hotel operators, including InterContinental, Hyatt, Starwood, Accor, and Best Western. The full text of the letter can be viewed at the CBIS SRI Action Center (www.cbisonline.com/sriaction).

“We are pleased with the number and variety of organizations that have signed on to promote the curtailing of human trafficking.  While the lodging industry is certainly not responsible for these tragic crimes, they are in a unique position to help prevent them by taking steps to stop the use of their hotels for this purpose. This letter provides the travel and tourism industry with specific actions they can take to put an end to this disturbing practice,” said Julie Tanner, Assistant Director of Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) at CBIS.

Sister Sharon Becker, Assistant General Superior of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, one of many religious communities involved in the fight against human trafficking, added, “According to the United Nations, an estimated 12 million people are victims of human trafficking, including forced labor and sexual exploitation. Some of the most vulnerable who fall prey to trafficking are children, through prostitution and sex tourism.  We believe that corporations have an obligation to not only speak out against this exploitation, but to actively work to end it through their corporate policies and actions.”
   
CBIS is focusing its attention on the World Cup due primarily to the scale of the event. The sheer number of people expected to travel to attend and participate in the tournament suggests a short-term increase in the demand for prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation as well as forced labor. It is estimated that the event will attract nearly a half-million visitors to South Africa and is expected to generate more than $3 billion in revenue.

The CBIS letter also encourages hotels to sign The Code, an industry-wide tool for facilitating the protection of children’s rights by the travel and tourism sector (www.thecode.org). Developed by ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking) Sweden in collaboration with the travel industry, The Code asks tourism service providers to adhere to a six-point pledge to help protect children from sexual exploitation by establishing corporate policies, training personnel, and annually reporting their findings and efforts to curtail human trafficking. Among the major hotel chains in South Africa that have already signed The Code are Accor and Carlson Companies.

“We sincerely hope that hotel operators will heed this call and realize the vital role they play in ending human trafficking, particularly in relation to major tourism events like the World Cup. We encourage all hotel owners and operators to sign The Code and continue to work to train their staff and educate guests on putting an end to human trafficking,” said Carol Smolenski, Director of ECPAT USA. “By knowing what to look for and how to respond, hotels and other tourism providers can serve as the front line in our fight against human injustice of all forms, all over the world.”

In addition to urging hotel operators to work to end human trafficking through corporate policies and employee education, CBIS is helping travelers to The World Cup participate in the fight against human trafficking by asking them to visit the CBIS SRI Action web site (www.cbisonline.com/sriaction) and print copies of a letter to be delivered upon check-in to their hotel. The travelers’ letter asks hotel managers and owners to take action and share information regarding their company’s policies and practices to help put an end to human trafficking.

“Just as human trafficking is present in nearly every country in the world, every person and corporation can take small steps to help put an end to it,” said Rev.  David Schilling, Director of Human Rights, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility. 

For more information on CBIS, or to speak with Julie Tanner, please contact Carol Graumann at 973-732-3521 or carol@jcpublicrelations.com

About Christian Brothers Investment Services
Christian Brothers Investment Services, Inc. (CBIS) is a leader in Catholic socially responsible investing (SRI) with approximately $3.8 billion in AUM for more than 1,000 Catholic institutions worldwide, including dioceses, religious institutes, educational institutions and health care organizations. CBIS' combination of premier institutional asset managers, diversified product offerings, and careful risk-control strategies constitutes a unique investment approach for Catholic institutions and their fiduciaries. CBIS strives to integrate faith-based values into the investment process through a disciplined approach to socially responsible investing that includes principled purchasing (stock screens), active ownership strategies (proxy voting, dialogues, and shareholder resolutions) and community investment. Visit CBIS at www.cbisonline.com.

About the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR)
For nearly 40 years the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) has been a leader of the corporate social responsibility movement. ICCR's membership is an association of 275 faith-based institutional investors, including national denominations, religious communities, pension funds, foundations, hospital corporations, economic development funds, asset management companies, colleges, and unions. Each year ICCR-member religious institutional investors sponsor over 200 shareholder resolutions on major social and environmental issues.


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