Accra — "Human trafficking is a particularly heinous crime, as it involves the exploitation and abuse of people for profit reasons," emphasized the Secretary General of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Ghana, Fr Lazarus Anondee, during the signing ceremony of the "Joint Declaration of Religious Leaders Against Modern Slavery", which was joined by 14 religious representatives from four African countries.
The declaration is an initiative of the "Global Freedom Network" of the human rights organization "Walk Free", which advocates a faster end to a crime of human trafficking that affects more than 40 million people worldwide.
It is the eighth declaration of its kind since 2014, when Pope Francis and Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi al-Modarresi, together with other leaders of many major world religions, jointly declared that modern slavery must be eradicated. The term "modern slavery" includes human trafficking, domestic servitude, the worst forms of child labor, and forced and child marriage.
Sheikh Armiyawo Shaibu, spokesman for the National Chief Imam of Ghana, said all religions have condemned these crimes. "As a religious leader you have a very special place in Ghanaian society", said Sheikh Shaibu. "You can see changes in people that others would ignore. So they are in a unique position to identify victims and put them in contact with professionals to help them get out of the hands of their tormentors".
The co-founder of the organization "Walk Free", Grace Forrest, who attended the signing ceremony in Ghana's capital Accra, emphasized that religious representatives play a crucial role in the fight against modern slavery. "Religious leaders are in a unique position when it comes to observing and combating cases of modern slavery in their communities. This is especially true in Africa, where the faith is rooted in communities and where modern slavery is widespread"
The declaration was signed by the religious leaders from Ghana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria and Ivory Coast.