By Hani Hazaimeh
AMMAN - Religious leaders are going to join the battle against human trafficking by highlighting the negative impact of this crime on society during their sermons.
Interfaith specialists and clerics participating in a workshop on human trafficking yesterday pointed out that both Islam and Christianity emphasise the importance of respecting human rights and dignity.
Father Nabil Haddad, president of the Jordan Interfaith Coexistence Research Centre, told The Jordan Times that all religions underscore respect for human dignity and no one has the right to exploit or take advantage of others to make a profit at the expense of human rights.
"The Holy Bible clearly states the importance of preserving human rights and dignity as stipulated in Luke 4:18,” he added quoting the text: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.”
Trafficking in persons is a crime that requires all segments of the society to work together, noted Haddad, who spoke at the workshop yesterday.
"At the centre we have been working on raising this issue in several activities. Over the next few months we will be holding two programmes in cooperation with the Johns Hopkins University targeting imams and religious figures as well as women, to educate them on the best means to spread public awareness on this crime," he added.
In his address at the event, Abdul Nasser Abu Basal, president of the World Islamic Sciences and Education University, noted that the penalty for human trafficking, when it becomes organised and comprehensive, is the same as the punishment for robbery.
Citing a verse in Surat Al Maida of the Holy Koran and a Hadith by the Prophet Mohammad, he said this penalty also applies to those who force women, children and the elderly to donate organs in exchange for money.
The Kingdom's Iftaa Council prohibits human trafficking and organ donation, which are only allowed in certain cases, Abu Basal added, noting that the council prohibited this act after it started taking place illegally outside the country for financial reasons.
Also yesterday, participants discussed the necessity of endorsing a unified law on human rights and called on the Arab League to discuss suggestions to be submitted to the Arab Summit slated for March 2012.
Ragaa Al Arabi, a member of the Arab parliament, noted that new forms of exploitation and trafficking in persons emerge as countries continue to combat this phenomenon.
He suggested that Arab states revisit their relevant national laws in order to ensure they are updated at all times.
Arabi also stressed that the laws should not only penalise the perpetrators, but also ensure protection of the victims and witnesses in order to encourage them to report the crimes to authorities, noting that the number of trafficking cases declared by countries is much lower that the actual figures.
Meanwhile, Tunisian parliament member Aida Morjane noted that trafficking in persons ranks third among crimes worldwide in terms of profits generated, noting that the perpetrators are organised international networks that have become powerful in their respective societies.
"The fight against this crime should be coupled with addressing economic conditions of the people, taking into account that many victims submit… because of financial reasons," she said.
Other aspects that should be included in any anti-trafficking strategy must also take into consideration raising awareness on the rights of vulnerable groups such as women and children, and emphasising religious and cultural norms, Morjane added at the conclusion of the two-day workshop, which was organised by the National Centre for Human Rights, the Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development and the Protection Project at the US-based Johns Hopkins University.