CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 23 September 2017

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Fighting curse of modern slavery

JAKARTA (UCAN): Catholic, Muslim and Protestant groups in Indonesia have pledged unity in fighting against slavery and human trafficking in the nation’s maritime and fishing sector.
They signed a joint declaration to end slavery at the office of the vice president on April 6.

The joint commitment is described as being “our effort to show that we want to work together with the government to end the problem,” Father Paulus Christian Siswantoko, the secretary of the Indonesian Commission for Justice, Peace and Pastoral for Migrant People, explained.

Slavery, human rights violations and human trafficking are rife in the maritime and fishing sectors that employ some 210,000 Indonesian people, figures from the International Labour Organisation show.

The 2014 Global Slavery Index ranked Indonesia as the 10th most problematic country out of 167 for the number of people trapped in modern slavery.

It is estimated that 700,000 are caught up in Indonesia, which has the highest number of modern slaves in southeastern Asia, followed by the Union of Myanmar with 515,100 people and Thailand with 425,500.

“Regulation is important to save people so that they are not slavery victims. The government must not only sink illegal fishing boats, but also slave ones,” Father Siswantoko said.

The Church has been warning local people of the problem. “The local Church has been advocating that people who live in poor regions around the coast should not work in dangerous sectors, including the fishing ships,” Father Siswantoko said.

Jeirry Sumampow, from the Communion of Churches in Indonesia, said the slavery figures are actually higher than what is advertised, because many cases have not been exposed.
It is not only a concern for Indonesia, but also the international community.

“The Protestant Church and other religions have encouraged boat owners and the government to protect people,” he said.
It has also listed many human rights violations in the fishing industry and “we have encouraged the government to make strict regulations to protect them,” he said.

Amidan Shaberah, the chairperson of the Indonesia Ulema Council, said the regulation is important to ending slavery. “We have to report to the United Nations Commission for Human Rights, because other countries are concerned about our case,” he explained.

“We interreligious leaders are determined to end slavery and we have asked our local ulema council to monitor the people who work on ships,” he noted.

 

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