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WASHINGTON, DC/ LONDON, ON (December 2, 2014) – On this International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, International Justice Mission’s founder and president, Gary Haugen joined global religious leaders at the Vatican as they signed an anti-slavery charter calling for the end of slavery in all its forms by 2020.

"My primary message today was just making sure that people understand that the primary reason there is so much slavery in our world today is because of impunity. That is to say slavery flourishes in our world because people don’t get in trouble for it,” Haugen said. "If we are going to turn the tide in the fight against slavery the church and leaders in the fight will need to emphasize with governments that they must enforce their laws against slavery.”

"Today is a momentous day. We have the luxury of standing on the shoulders of giants, abolitionists who opposed the inhuman oppression of one person by another,” adds IJM Canada executive director Ed Wilson. "But the fight is not over.”

Millions worldwide are trapped in the brutal violence of modern-day slavery. Many of them are forced labor slaves who toil in brick kilns, rice mills, fisheries and countless other industries.

Often entrapped by a false advance loan, IJM has identified entire families (from grandparents to parents to children) forced to work for years after accepting advance payments as low as $20 USD.

Forced labor slavery comes at great cost:

  • Children represent an estimated 26% of all forced labor victims. (ILO)
  • The total financial cost of coercion to the workers affected—excluding victims of forced commercial sexual exploitation—based on provisional estimates from the ILO, is approximately $21 Billion USD. (ILO)

Facts like these lead to the founding of the Global Freedom Network, the organization co-founded by Pope Francis, which has gathered leaders at the Vatican today to mobilize governments, businesses, international and civil society organizations and people of all faiths to change the facts and put an end to modern day slavery and human trafficking.

A critical first step in ending the global scourge is to strengthen the response by public justice systems. Informed by more than 15 years of casework experience, IJM believes a strong public justice system that acts as a credible deterrent to slave owners can markedly reduce the existence of slavery.


International Justice Mission is a global organization protecting the poor from violence throughout the developing world. IJM partners with local authorities to rescue victims of violence, bring criminals to justice, restore survivors, and strengthen justice systems.

For media inquiries, please contact:

In the United States:
Mindy Mizell, Director, Global Public Relations
202-355-3690 (cell)

Julie Eckert, Sr. Media Relations Manager
443-878-5996 (cell)

In Canada:
Petra Bosma, Public Affairs Manager
519-679-5030 x. 229
(cell) 519-670-5301

Image caption: In April 2011, IJM partnered with the government to rescue 512 children, women and men from forced labour slavery in a brick kiln outside of Chennai—the largest case ever conducted in that district. The rescued slaves, the youngest just 8 years old, had been forced to work 18-hour days for little to no pay, without adequate food or rest, and had suffered vicious beatings by the brick factory’s owner and his henchmen.

Image caption: Survivors rescued from a brick kiln where they were held as forced labour slaves.

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