Saperstein: “It is more urgent than ever for international leaders and NGOs to strengthen measures to combat this modern-day slavery.”
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WASHINGTON, D.C., June 18, 2009 – In response to the release of the U.S. State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
This week’s release of the State Department’s 2009 Trafficking in Persons Report highlights the importance of stringent accountability and monitoring of human trafficking. The scourge of human trafficking violates the inherent dignity of every human being. Around the world, year in and year out, hundreds of thousands of women, men, and children each year are victimized by those who enslave them using deception and often outright force. The addition of 12 new countries to the watch list of countries not doing enough to combat trafficking, is troubling. These additions, and the very existence of this important report, are critical steps towards assuring that human trafficking is no longer allowed to occur in the shadows as governments turn a blind eye.
As noted by Secretary Clinton, the current global economic crisis creates conditions that make individuals, desperate for a means to support themselves and loved ones, more susceptible to traffickers. We are not immune to the blight of trafficking activity in the U.S. or Canada. Both countries must redouble their efforts to bring traffickers to justice and provide needed support to those who have been trafficked. In addition, though the report describes efforts by the Israeli government to increase vigilance against trafficking we are concerned by the lack of improvement in Israel’s rating. It is more urgent than ever for international leaders and NGOs to strengthen measures to combat this modern-day slavery.
Jewish tradition teaches that there is no greater mitzvah than redeeming the captives – those are hungry, thirsty, naked and whose life is in danger. Together we can work to bring about an end to human trafficking and ensure than no woman, man or child knows the experience of captivity.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1,800 Reform rabbis.