Faith Leaders Sign a Declaration to Fight Modern Slavery

Pope Francis defined modern slavery as a crime in 2013 with these words – when people

“…are treated as objects, deceived, assaulted, often sold many times for different purposes and, in the end, killed or, in any case, physically and mentally harmed, ending up discarded and abandoned”.

Pope Francis

Modern slavery is an umbrella term, which includes human trafficking, domestic servitude, the worst forms of child labour and forced and child marriages. Religious Leaders have a unique position in society and can be able to use their congregational platforms to advocate and sensitize their members on modern slavery. The society also holds Faith Leaders accountable as they are moral custodians.

It is with this that Religious Leaders in Kenya in partnership with Global Freedom Network signed a Joint Declaration of Religious Leaders against Modern Slavery representing a pan-African coalition of ethical leaders to fight an injustice, which affects more than 40 million people globally. The main faith bodies in Kenya that signed the commitment are namely: Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, National Council of Churches of Kenya, Evangelical Alliance of Kenya, Organization of African Instituted Churches, Seventh Day Adventist Church, Supreme Council of Kenyan Muslims, National Muslim Leaders Forum, Shia Ithnasharia Muslim Association and the Hindu Council of Kenya.

“We will use our connections and resources to address the root causes of this vice and ensure that it is completely eradicated from our society and perpetrators brought to book”, said Abdirahman Ismael, the IRCK Executive Director.

Kenya becomes the second country in Africa to sign the declaration after faith leaders from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire joined Ghanaian leaders to sign the commitment in a ceremony held in Accra in August 2021. Global Freedom Network, the faith arm of international human rights group Walk Free, which is dedicated to accelerating the end of modern slavery, hosted the declaration signings. It is the ninth signing since 2014 when Pope Francis and Grand Ayatollah Taqi al-Modarresi joined other faith leaders from many of the world’s great religions in declaring that modern slavery must be eradicated.

 “Faith leaders occupy a prominent position and are well placed to lead the fight against modern slavery in their communities. The philosophy of Global Freedom Network is built on interfaith collaboration. We are honoured to work in Kenya with the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya,” said Ms Franca Pellegrini, director of the Global Freedom Network.

Faith For Freedom smartphone app was also launched during the signing of the declaration. The Faith For Freedom app is the first smartphone app serving faith leaders who want to help the authorities in their country combat human trafficking and assist victims. It explains what modern slavery is, how to detect it, how to respond to people affected by it, and how and where to find help to address it. This App has Kenya specific information as well as international mode. The development of the App has been done in collaboration with faith leaders to help guide them to tackle modern slavery in their communities and congregations.

“This a practical tool designed for and developed by faith leaders to assist with their important work addressing modern slavery in their congregations and communities,” Ms Pellegrini said and added, “We are using modern technology to address an age-old problem.”

The Faith For Freedom app is free to download now from Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store. Visit faithforfreedom.org to learn more.

By Mary Ndulili

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