SOHTIS is delighted to be hosting senior faith leaders from across Scotland at Dundas Castle, South Queensferry, today, Monday 29 April 2019 to discuss human trafficking. Slavery: A Faith-Based Response, aims to strengthen understanding and create an opportunity for faith groups to collaborate in becoming part of the solution to the eventual eradication of human trafficking in Scotland and the support and care of survivors.
According to the National Crime Agency figures, the number of human trafficking victims found in Scotland has more than doubled in the past 5 years. It is a hidden crime with concerns that the actual numbers of trafficked people being much higher than those being identified. Trafficking involves children and adults from EU and non-EU countries, as well as British citizens, with all of them being exploited for financial gain by criminals.
SOHTIS’ main aim is the medium to long term care of survivors of trafficking and Joy Gillespie, the SOHTIS Development Manager said, ‘we believe that everyone deserves to live in freedom with dignity and respect and we are delighted that this seminar provides the opportunity for a wide range of faith-based organisations to work together to ensure that this freedom exists for everyone in Scotland’.
Around twelve faith groups will be represented at the Seminar all of whom have ratified the following statement demonstrating their commitment to action: ‘As national Faith Leaders, we recognise that human trafficking exists in Scotland. It is our fundamental conviction that all people are equal and entitled to the same rights of freedom, dignity and respect. We regard the exploitation of men, women and children as a crime against humanity and we reject trafficking and the activities it supports in our country and worldwide. As Faith Leaders, we commit to working with SOHTIS, the Scottish Government and other organisations to develop effective approaches to recognising and tackling human trafficking in Scotland and supporting the survivors.’
His Holiness Pope Francis has sent a personal message of blessing to all those participating in the Seminar commending ‘the ecumenical and interreligious dimension of this initiative’ which he prays ‘may bear fruit and contribute to a growing commitment to fight against this contemporary scourge’.
The Scottish Government are committed to working with all sectors to eradicate slavery in Scotland. Cabinet Secretary for Justice Humza Yousaf said:
“Human trafficking is an abhorrent crime, with victims very often hidden in plain sight. Supporting victims, holding perpetrators to account and addressing the wider causes of human trafficking are all key priorities for the Scottish Government.
“We have made progress by providing police and prosecutors with greater powers to disrupt and prosecute those responsible through the implementation of the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Act in 2015.
“We’ve also funded support services and raised awareness by working with the public and organisations, and by publishing our first Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy in 2017. However, we are committed to doing more.
“Faith-based organisations are at the very heart of communities, with the ability to make a difference in neighbourhoods and congregations. I have no doubt that today’s event will inform positive action in the future, and that together we can make further progress in tackling trafficking and exploitation in our communities.”
Call to Action
SOHTIS believes everyone deserves to live in freedom with dignity and respect.
There are ways that we can all be involved in being part of the solution to human trafficking in Scotland. Some as simple as raising awareness by following SOHTIS on social media and sharing our posts or volunteering your skills, linking us with useful networking contacts or donating funds.
Please get in touch to find out how you can join us in our support of survivors