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Time & Temperature in Doha

Religious leaders express concern over human trafficking
5/15/2008 3:4:57
Source ::: The Peninsula
Doha The perspectives of the three Abrahamic faiths Islam, Christianity and Judaism on Human Trafficking and Selling of Organs was the subject of lively discussion during a session of the Sixth Doha Conference of Interfaith Dialogue yesterday.

Speakers at the session were Mohamed Matar, research professor at the US-based Johns Hopkins University, Father Vittorio Yanari, head of the Department for Muslim-Christian Relations, Community of Santegidio, Italy and Rabbi David Seperstin, Director, Religious Action Centre of Reform Judaism and Adjunct Professor on Jewish Law, Georgetown University Law School, USA.

The session was chaired by Dr John Bernard Taylor, representative of UN International Society for Religious Freedom, Switzerland.

Rabbi David Seperstin, who talked about the Jewish view on the issue, said both the topics that were the subject of the session had one similarity in both the human being was treated as an economic commodity.

"Trafficking, the modern version of slavery, involves no choice; sale of organs often does but includes situations where the pressures of dire poverty or the practice in China of harvesting organs from prisoners, alive and executed, contain limited or no aspect of choice."

He added that millions of people were trafficked every year across the globe, adding that over two million women and children were trafficked in situations where fraud, force or coercion is involved.

Seperstin added that millions more men, women and children are trafficked for economic purposes and into domestic servitude. The incidence of child soldiers being kidnapped and used for military purposes constituted another form of human trafficking, he said.

Mohamed Mattar said the United Nations Group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery never defined the term trafficking in person but only made a list of the variety of human rights violations that are considered as modern day forms of slavery, and kept expanding the list.

"Islamic law is clear in prohibiting all forms of exploitation," Mattar said, adding that organ trafficking is also prohibited under Islamic principles.

He, however, noted that trafficking in human organs was an increasing problem in some Muslim and Middle Eastern countries. He cited the example of Egypt, which has become a regional hub for the trade in human organs due to poverty and legal shortcomings, among other factors. "While there are no official statistics it is believed that an increasing number of Egypt's poor are falling prey to this phenomenon," he said.

Father Vitorio Yanari said that human trafficking had recently witnessed a significant increase, adding that the revenues of the trafficking industry were estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars.

He said this industry was active in several countries, including Nigeria, India, Mozambique and Pakistan.

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