Pope, Imams, Rabbis, Welby, Buddhists say no to modern slavery

Pope Francis, Tuesday, joined Islam, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish and other Christian world faith leaders to sign a joint declaration of their commitment to end the eradication of modern slavery.

The Joint Declaration of Religious Leaders against Modern Slavery underlines that modern slavery is a crime against humanity.

The religious leaders’ goal is to have slavery eradicated by 2020.

The declaration comes against a background of a UN report showing an increase trafficking of children.

The report shows that one in three human trafficking victims is a child, most are female and the proportion of child victims is increasing.

In some regions like Africa and the Middle East, two out of three victims are children states the UN report.

Catholic Relief Services’ trafficking statistics show:

  • At least 12.3 million people are trafficked worldwide.
  • More than 1 million children are victims of trafficking.
  • People are trafficked in 161 countries, including the United States.
  • Human trafficking is a $32 billion industry worldwide.
  • On average, only 1 person is convicted for every 800 trafficking cases worldwide.

“The physical, economic, sexual and psychological exploitation of men and women, boys and girls, is chaining tens of millions of persons to inhumanity and humiliation,” Pope Francis said, before signing the pledge.

Calling modern slavery “an atrocious plague”, the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics was the first to sign the declaration.

Labelling modern slavery as a crime against humanity, the religious leaders defined human trafficking as, “forced labor and prostitution, organ trafficking, and any relationship that fails to respect the fundamental conviction that all people are equal and have the same freedom and dignity.”

“In the eyes of God each human being is a free person, whether girl or boy, woman or man, and is destined to exist for the good of all in equality and fraternity,” affirmed the leaders.

The signing ceremony took place at the headquarters of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in the Vatican, in the Casina Pio IV, in the presence of some 200 people, including cardinals, ambassadors from many countries, NGOs and activists and representatives of the world’s media.


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