Jakarta. Indonesian religious leaders call for an end to slavery in a declaration signed in Jakarta on Tuesday (14/03).
The gesture is part of a global movement against the human trafficking and forced labor.
In 2014, Australian billionaire and mining magnate Andrew Forrest convinced major religious leaders, Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Mosque, to sign on his initiative, the Global Freedom Network against modern slavery, aiming to eradicate human trafficking by 2020.
According to the 2016 Global Slavery Index released by Forrest's Walk Free Foundation, 45.8 million people worldwide are trapped in slavery.
"In all these countries [where slavery occurs], trust in religious institutions is higher than in bureaucracy and governments. This makes the initiative very important," said former deputy foreign minister, Dino Patti Djalal, before the signing of the Religious Leaders' Declaration Against Modern Slavery at the Vice Presidential Palace in Jakarta.
Contemporary or modern slavery is compelled labor through the use of force, fraud and other forms of coercion, such as involuntary servitude, debt bondage, forced prostitution.
More than 700,000 people are enslaved in Indonesia.
According to Forrest, modern slavery "exists most in the world through manual forced labor, forced domestic servitude and the sex slave industry – which includes both girls and boys."
His foundation uses systematic, business-like strategy to help other non-governmental organizations, governments as well as businesses to act against slavery.
In an interview with the Jakarta Globe on Monday, Forrest said it is important to distinguish modern slavery from economic issues.
"It's not about pay or working conditions. It's a situation where one's freedom is at cost. This isn't an economic issue but a freedom issue," he said, adding that specific industries, especially the fisheries and palm oil sectors, are vulnerable to modern slavery.
In 2015, Indonesian authorities rescued more that 2,000 foreign fishermen who were forced to work and held captive on remote islands.
To learn more about modern slavery and initiatives undertaken to prevent it, visit Global Slavery Index.