The Inter-Religious Council of Kenya (IRCK) has signed a declaration to end modern slavery. The commitment by leaders representing various faith organisations to the Joint Declaration of Religious Leaders against Modern Slavery represents a pan-African coalition of ethical leaders to fight an injustice which affects more than 40 million people globally.
IRCK is a coalition of all major faith communities in Kenya that works together to deepen inter-faith dialogue and collaboration among members for a common endeavour to mobilise the unique moral and social resources of religious people and address shared concerns.
Kenya becomes the second signing venue in Africa after faith leaders from Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire joined Ghanaian leaders to sign the commitment in a ceremony held in Accra in August 2021.
Global Freedom Network, the faith arm of international human rights group Walk Free, which is dedicated to accelerating the end of modern slavery, hosted the declaration signing. It is the ninth signing since 2014, when Pope Francis and Grand Ayatollah Taqi al-Modarresi joined other faith leaders from many of the world’s great religions in declaring that modern slavery must be eradicated.
Modern slavery is an umbrella term which includes human trafficking, domestic servitude, the worst forms of child labour and forced and child marriage.
IRCK Chair Rev. Fr. Joseph Mutie said the faith leaders condemn various forms of modern slavery and will use all the resources available to them to ensure this practice comes to an end.
“As faith leaders, the society holds us to account given the unique position that has been bestowed on us. We will use our connections and resources to address the root causes of this vice and ensure that it is completely eradicated from our society and perpetrators brought to book”, said Abdirahman Ismael, the IRCK Executive Director.
Franca Pellegrini, director of the Global Freedom Network, said faith leaders were in a unique position to see into the hearts of their communities.
“Faith leaders occupy a prominent position and are well placed to lead the fight against modern slavery in their communities”, said Ms Pellegrini. “The philosophy of Global Freedom Network is built on interfaith collaboration. We are honoured to work in Kenya with the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya (IRCK).”
“The Global Freedom Network believes passionately that in the interconnected, divisive and unequal world we live in, faith leaders can play a crucial role in supporting governments and societies navigate the most complex problems that the 21st century throws at us.
“Our philosophy is that we have to learn from each other and listen to community and faith leaders from as many parts of the world as possible if we are to stand a chance of addressing the root causes of modern slavery, including poverty and inequality.
“We are living at a particularly fragile time when the need to listen to solve the world’s most complex problems could not be more important.
“We thank the Kenyan faith leaders for signing this declaration today, joining the community of faith leaders across the world who have endorsed this pledge.”
The signing event coincided with the launch of the Faith For Freedom smartphone app, which was developed in collaboration with faith leaders to help guide them to tackle modern slavery in their communities and congregations.
“This a practical tool designed for and developed by faith leaders to assist with their important work addressing modern slavery in their congregations and communities,” Ms Pellegrini said. “We are using modern technology to address an age-old problem.”
The Faith For Freedom app is free to download now from the Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store.
Walk Free is an international human rights organisation dedicated to accelerating the end of modern slavery. Walk Free works in collaboration with partners all over the world who are committed to ending modern slavery. It was co-founded in 2010 by Grace Forrest. Walk Free creates the Global Slavery Index (GSI), the world’s leading data set on modern slavery. The GSI provides a country-by-country ranking of the number of people in modern slavery, country risk factors and an analysis of each government’s actions in responding to it.
The Global Freedom Network is the faith arm of Walk Free. The Network is building a coalition of faith leaders to accelerate the end of modern slavery. Walk Free believes faith leaders can be a bridge between victims and law enforcement, social workers and victim support groups. The Global Freedom Network was formed in 2014 when it held the inaugural signing of the Joint Declaration of Religious Leaders Against Modern Slavery at the Vatican.
The IRCK is a coalition of all major faith communities in Kenya that works together to deepen inter-faith dialogue and collaboration among members for a common endeavour to mobilise the unique moral and social resources of religious people and address shared concerns.
The major faith communities in Kenya that constitute IRCK are the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB), the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK), the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya (EAK), the Organisation of African Instituted Churches (OAIC), the Seventh Day Adventist Church (SDA), the Supreme Council of Kenyan Muslims (SUPKEM), the National Muslim Leaders Forum (NAMLEF), the Shia Ithnasharia Muslim Association and the Hindu Council of Kenya (HCK). Each of these religious coordinating agencies has a national coverage with structures that ensure reach at the grassroots level. Additionally, IRCK has formed local inter-faith networks to act as platforms for local advocacy and action in the counties.