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Brazil's Primate calls for action on people trafficking

Posted on: July 31, 2015 10:59 AM
Maltese soldiers carry the coffin of one of the 24 victims of human trafficking who were killed on 19 April this year when their boat capsized as they were crossing the Mediterranean Sea.
Photo Credit: Ray Attard / European Union
Related Categories: Abp da Silva, Brazil, trafficking

[ACNS] The Primate of the Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil (the Episcopal Anglican Church in Brazil), the Most Revd Francisco De Assis Da Silva, has called for action to combat and prevent human trafficking.

In a letter to the churches in the Province, Archbishop Da Silva says that human trafficking “is a human tragedy that only in the last years has been noticed by governments and non-governmental organizations.

“In our country, human rights bodies have denounced several categories of human trafficking, such as slave labour, organ trafficking, sexual exploitation of boys and girls and illegal adoption of children. Human trafficking has no borders and exists both here in Brazil and abroad.”

Brazil, he said, was tenth in terms of statistics showing the reported cases of human trafficking across the world; but he said that the position may be worse than that: “we must keep in mind [that] several cases go unreported,” he said.

“Brazilian society must be more conscious about this silent and obscure problem, which amasses at least 30 billion dollars in the world, enriching national and international mafias. Children and adults are lured into a world of dreams that becomes a nightmare. Economic and social exploitation submits them to undignifying living conditions and, many times, to death.

“The Church reaffirms its commitment to human dignity and places itself emphatically against such crimes. Every human being is created in the image and likeness of God and carries an ontological dignity which must not be violated. No person should be submitted to restrictions on his or her freedom, mobility and ability to choose work.

“Nobody should be traded as merchandise, regardless of age, social condition or gender.”

The Archbishop sent his letter in the week that the United Nations’ Blue Heart campaign against human trafficking got underway. The Blue Heart campaign is an awareness raising initiative to fight human trafficking and its impact on society by encouraging people across the world to get involvement and to inspire action to help stop this crime. By wearing or displaying the Blue Heart logo, members of the public are being encouraged to show solidarity with the victims of human trafficking.

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“The Blue Heart represents the sadness of those who are trafficked while reminding us of the cold-heartedness of those who buy and sell fellow human beings,” a Blue Heart campaign spokesman said. “The use of the blue UN colour also demonstrates the commitment of the United Nations to combating this crime against human dignity.

“In the same way that the red ribbon has become the international symbol of HIV/Aids awareness, this campaign aims to make the Blue Heart into an international symbol against human trafficking.”

Last December, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the Grand Imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar Mosque, Ahmed Muhammad Ahmed el-Tayeb, joined other religious leaders at a meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican in which they committed themselves to do what they could to tackle this form of modern slavery.

“Modern slavery … fails to respect the fundamental conviction that all people are equal and have the same freedom and dignity,” the religious leaders said in their joint statement. “We pledge ourselves here today to do all in our power, within our faith communities and beyond, to work together for the freedom of all those who are enslaved and trafficked so that their future may be restored.”

“In several Anglican provinces, actions are being taken to raise awareness about this theme,” Archbishop Da Silva said in his letter. “Our Brazilian province should do the same in concrete ways.

“I call upon our Province to engage with combatting and preventing human trafficking. May our dioceses and churches save some time to gather their members and discuss about it, offering prayers for victims and their families. These actions can be done in partnership with other churches and human rights organizations.”

He called on local churches in the Province to establish parish-based groups where there wasn’t already a local network working against human trafficking. “May God inspire us to take into consideration this time as an opportunity so we learn about this topic and take action protecting victims, preventing these crimes, and proclaiming prophetic words wherever we are,” he said.