12/01/2014, 00.00
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World Religious leaders together against modern slavery

Pope Francis and leaders of the Orthodox, Anglican, Islamic, Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist faiths will sign a Joint Declaration in the Vatican tomorrow. Through the latter, the Global Freedom Network (GFN), which is behind the initiative, wants a common commitment to inspire spiritual and practical action by all faiths and people of goodwill everywhere to eradicate modern slavery, a practice that affects 36 million people.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - For the first time in history, the religious leaders world's Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists are scheduled to sign a declaration calling for the eradication of modern slavery.

The leaders of the Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox Churches, as well as Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim faiths will make their commitment against slavery tomorrow in a Joint Declaration at the Vatican, on the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery.

Catholics will be represented by Pope Francis; the Orthodox, by Metropolitan Emmanuel representing the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew; Anglicans, by Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury; Jews, by Rabbis Abraham Skorka and David Rosen; Hindus, by Her Holiness Mata Amritanandamayi (Amma); Buddhists, by Ven Bhikkhuni Thich Nu Chan Khong representing Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay), and by the Most Ven Datuk K Sri Dhammaratana, Chief High Priest of Malaysia; Muslims, by Dr Abbas Abdalla Abbas Soliman representing Mohamed Ahmed El-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar; by Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi al-Modarresi; by Sheikh Naziyah Razzaq Jaafar representing Grand Ayatollah Sheikh Basheer Hussain al Najafi; and by Sheikh Omar Abboud.

The declaration is the result of an initiative by the Global Freedom Network (GFN). Its goal is to affirm a common commitment to inspire spiritual and practical action by all faiths and people of goodwill everywhere to eradicate modern slavery.

According to the 2014 Global Slavery Index released by GFN's member partner Walk Free Foundation, almost 36 million people are currently trapped in modern slavery.

The Joint Declaration of Religious Leaders against Modern Slavery underlines that modern slavery - which includes human trafficking, forced labour, prostitution, organ trafficking, and any relationship that fails to respect the fundamental principle that all people are equal and have the same freedom and dignity - is a crime against humanity, and must be recognised as such by everyone and by all nations.

A number of leaders from international organisations, including GFN partner Andrew Forrest of the Walk Free Foundation, civil society organisations and businesses will witness the signing of the declaration on Tuesday.

The Global Freedom Network has outlined six fields of action for achieving its vision. These include mobilising faith-based communities, supply chain proofing to promote ethical purchasing arrangements, improving the care for victims and survivors, advocating for law reforms and enforcement, facilitating and promoting education and awareness, and securing sizeable funds in order to carry out its task.

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