The Freedom Framework: ideas and recommendations for ways churches can help tackle human trafficking and modern slavery

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The Freedom Framework – the 8’P’s

Global principles and recommendations for best practice:


An historic event on 2 December 2014 hosted by Pope Francis at the Vatican saw global faith leaders, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, unite in signing a Joint Declaration to End Modern Slavery. In so doing, the leaders committed to engage their respective communities “to work together for the freedom of all those who are enslaved and trafficked so that their future may be restored.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury asked the Anglican Alliance to help equip and connect churches and agencies across the Anglican Communion in tackling modern slavery and human trafficking.

Since then, the Anglican Alliance has convened a series of regional consultations across the globe to examine the issues of modern slavery and human trafficking and to determine how churches can best respond to promote safe migration and tackle exploitation and trafficking. These consultations have equally been a response to local concerns: modern slavery and human trafficking have been identified and raised as issues of concern by churches and agencies in every part of the Anglican Communion.

The consultations have been held in partnership with others, in particular The Salvation Army and other ecumenical partners, and have always included local practitioners, allowing for richer sharing of knowledge and experience. Through these consultations the Anglican Alliance and The Salvation Army have developed an understanding of how churches can engage and respond effectively to end modern slavery and human trafficking.

This response is most effective when done in partnership with others, as appropriate to each context – with other denominations, other faiths, government, civil society, law enforcement, business, the media and so on. Churches are not necessarily equipped to act in every area, but in partnership with others they can build on their own strengths and assets and act on the identified gaps. This understanding of a comprehensive response is brought together and expressed in the Freedom Framework.


The Freedom Framework

The Freedom Framework is a set of principles, recommendations and ideas to help churches as they respond to human trafficking. It groups possible responses under 8 headings: Prevention, Protection, Prosecution, Policy, Partnerships, Participation, Prayer and Proof.

The headings are based on the United Nations Palermo Protocol, which sets out how countries can respond to trafficking, and have been expanded for a church context.

What is meant by each of the 8 ‘Ps’?

  • Prevention: reducing people’s vulnerability to being trafficked; building community resilience.
  • Protection: assisting and protecting people who have come out of trafficking, for example by providing safe houses or host families and access to psychological and livelihood support and avoiding re-trafficking.
  • Participation: mobilising faith communities to build awareness and to recognise and report the signs of trafficking; encouraging members of our communities to respond.
  • Partnership: collaborating with others in different denominations and sectors, for example government, law enforcement, business, media and civil society; valuing others and recognising that we cannot all do everything, but we each have an important part to play.
  • Policy: ensuring that there is effective legislation against trafficking and that it is implemented, both at a state level and within our church structures; making sure communities know about such legislation.
  • Prosecution: the effective prosecution of perpetrators that ensures traffickers are not allowed to continue what they are doing and that witnesses are protected through the process.
  • Proof: ensuring that action is grounded in solid research and based on evidence; contributing to research.
  • Prayer: the unique element people of faith can bring. Prayer and worship can be used to focus our response to the problem. Where survivors share the faith, it can be a key part of their recovery journey.


Global principles and recommendations for best practice

There are many ways the Church can respond to human trafficking and, with its rootedness in local communities, its permanence and its mandate for love and justice, it is well placed to do so.

It is important to note that the Freedom Framework represents the full response the Church can make as a whole alongside other partners. Individual churches will have different capacities to engage in these different areas, according to their interests, resources, skills, opportunities and geographical location. One church won’t be able to engage in all areas of response. However, working together with other churches and other partners, initiatives under each of these areas of response will disrupt traffickers and tackle exploitation, providing a comprehensive response.

The following principles, ideas and recommendations illustrate how churches might respond in each of the 8 areas of the Freedom Framework. They have been collected and developed from the wisdom shared by practitioners, contributors and participants in the multiple consultations the Anglican Alliance and the Salvation Army have helped to convene. While these recommendations and principles have been developed and tested globally across different regions, they should be reviewed and adapted for each unique context.

General principles

As well as the recommendations for good practice for each of the areas of response, there are some general principles that apply across the board. As the Anglican Alliance, we believe and/or recommend that:

  1. Human trafficking and modern slavery are realities that affect communities everywhere. The Church is part of the community; trafficking is an issue that affects it.
  2. The Church has a role to play in promoting safe migration and stopping human trafficking and modern slavery at local, national, regional and global levels.
  3. The Bible is a source of wisdom that can inspire and guide the Church in helping communities tackle trafficking and slavery.
  4. Every response, no matter the scale, is important. There are some actions that can be taken by everyone, not just specialists.
  5. Being trusted by the people and communities that churches work with is crucial. Trust depends on building strong relationships and transparency in, and about, any work undertaken.
  6. Strong safeguarding practices must be in place to protect victims/survivors and their families as well as those involved in the response as human trafficking is a criminal enterprise.
  7. Ill-informed, emotion-based responses can be damaging to victims/survivors and dangerous to all involved.
  8. Any responses churches make should be based on evidence. Any work or intervention should be grounded in, and guided by, reliable information and research on trafficking. Practitioners should be active contributors to this body of research and intentionally share learning with each other.
  9. At all times, the identity of victims, survivors, children and vulnerable adults must be protected, and their dignity respected, including in any use of media or images.
  10. It is important that the Church has a thorough understanding of trafficking and modern slavery so that it can help people identify it in their communities. This understanding involves:

a) Knowing the national anti-trafficking legislation and framework.
b) Understanding the four different modes of people movement:

– Human trafficking
– Undocumented migrants
– Migrant workers
– Refugees and asylum seekers

It is important to know the differences and relationships between them, understanding that often traffickers use the same routes as regular migrants and that vulnerable people on the move can also end up prey to traffickers.
c) Enhancing knowledge in shared environments, attending internal and external conferences and workshops, and sharing learning through networks.

11. The stories churches hear through their activities are an important source of data that can help identify gaps in support services and judicial processes. It is therefore helpful to collect basic anonymised data and share it appropriately.




Present and rooted in local communities, the Church has unique strengths and a key role to play in preventing trafficking and modern slavery.




The Anglican Alliance recommends that when churches design, implement and review their practices to prevent trafficking they are guided by the following principles:

1.One of the most effective ways churches can respond to human trafficking and modern slavery is to prevent it from happening in the first place.

2. The Church can help prevent trafficking and modern slavery through building resilience against trafficking and promoting safe migration. Ways to do this include:

a) Raising awareness. Helping communities understand trafficking and recognise it is an important first step as they may not be able to see it, even when it is happening.

b) Reducing vulnerability. When people are materially poor, they take greater risks, making them more vulnerable to trafficking. Churches can work with communities to address the root causes of their vulnerability and make them more resilient. This might include providing safe spaces, livelihood support and skills training. It also includes working on attitudes and behaviours: changing attitudes and behaviours in both the Church and the community that make people more vulnerable to trafficking, and encouraging attitudes and behaviours that help people protect themselves and others.

c) Promoting safe migration. This involves providing information so that people are able to make informed and safe decisions about migrating and helping them to be well prepared.

3. Prevention work can be integrated into much of the Church’s existing work and activities.

4. When working with communities to build resilience, it is important that responses are community led, inclusive and based on the community’s assets (resources, skills and experience). The Church’s role is to support communities to identify the root causes of their vulnerability and to discover their own possible solutions. Approaches such as Church and Community Transformation and Asset-Based Community Development are important ways to build resilience in communities.

5. Good communication and information will make the Church’s prevention work more effective. Different audiences need different tools and messaging, so the Church needs to use different ways to raise awareness of trafficking and modern slavery. Whatever approach is used, it needs to be fit for purpose (research based), multi-sectoral and should use community resources. The more knowledge churches have about trafficking in their communities, the more effective their awareness campaigns will be.

6. The Church needs to reflect on its own practice and teaching, asking searching questions of itself, in order to identify and eradicate any form of abuse, manipulation and exploitation. Strong protection and safeguarding policies must be put in place and followed.

7. To prevent trafficking and modern slavery for everyone:

a) The Church needs to reach out to other faith communities, potentially working together with them collaboratively.

b) The Church should bring together and work with other stakeholders at every level.





The Church has a responsibility to protect and support people who have experienced trafficking.




The Anglican Alliance recommends that when churches design, implement and review their practices to protect survivors, they are guided by the following principles:

  1. Churches should establish protection policies based on current best practice for activities and programmes and ensure they are implemented, enforced and reviewed.
  2. People working in protection must be vetted and trained appropriately. They need to be equipped to provide the support survivors need through proper training in the aftercare of survivors of trafficking or exploitation.
  3. People who have experienced trafficking are the experts of their own life and have skills and resources. Therefore, programmes and interventions should take an empowerment and strengths-based approach building on survivors’ knowledge and skills, rather than one that creates dependency.
  4. For many people, recovery from trafficking or exploitation can be a long journey spanning many years. Shelters can be one of the many stages/services in the long-term recovery process (though may not be required by everyone who has experienced trafficking or exploitation). If churches and other organisations offer shelters or other short-term recovery programmes, they need to recognise the need for ongoing care and look for long-term recovery options after formal programmes to ensure survivors have support in the community either through families, friends or their faith community.
  5. Reintegration of survivors into their communities can be a difficult process. One way churches can help protect survivors is to ease this process by facilitating a change in attitude of families and communities where there may be stigmatisation or rejection.
  6. Churches can support people who have experienced trafficking to rebuild relationships with themselves, their family, their community and, if they choose, their faith.
  7. Churches can maintain a directory of professional support providers in order to make referrals and to help people access services they choose including health, social, emotional, mental health, safety and spiritual wellbeing services.
  8. Where churches design programmes, the support provided should be age appropriate, gender sensitive and culturally relevant. Programmes should be client led and tailored to their individual strengths and needs.
  9. Economic empowerment is key to reducing the risk of a person being re-trafficked and helping them to feel safe. Churches can help by looking for, or providing, livelihood empowerment opportunities. Where possible, this should involve the family of the survivor as well, recognising that economic empowerment for the family, not just the individual, is important for full recovery and resilience.
  10. When a person discloses an experience of trafficking, they must be treated with sensitivity and respect. Confidentiality must be maintained, unless they disclose that they intend harm to themselves or others.
  11. Where church members are known in a community to be people who work with survivors, they should think carefully about how they support survivors and ensure their story remains confidential.
  12. Working with people who have been trafficked can trigger vicarious trauma or compassion fatigue. Self-care support should be available to care for the carers.




A key strength of the Church is its ability to mobilise its members to take action.

Participation is about mobilising every local church and every Christian to be involved in the fight against trafficking, encouraging them to take action with a sense of responsibility and deep commitment.

Churches do not need to wait for formal structures to be in place to begin participating in the work of ending human trafficking. They can seek training and respond in their own context, always mindful of their own safety and the safety of those caught up in trafficking. Raising awareness to build resilient communities and prevent trafficking is a key task best achieved by the participation of every church.

As churches practise participation, the Anglican Alliance recommends they are guided by the following principles:

Mobilising the Church

  1. Local and national churches have a powerful voice and can reach many communities others cannot. The Church has a key role to play in combatting human trafficking.  Every church can mark a Freedom Sunday to raise awareness and pray on the issue.
  2. The Church has resources it can utilise in the fight against trafficking. These resources include people in places of influence or who can offer support through their businesses or connections, as well as financial resources.
  3. Church leaders at local, national, regional and international levels can raise awareness of the issues and highlight church initiatives on tackling modern slavery and human trafficking.
  4. In their mobilisation work, churches need to be inclusive of all people regardless of their background, gender, ethnicity, culture or faith. Children also have a role to play because they will have information not available to adults and can spread awareness in their families and amongst their peers.
  5. A church, through its leadership and members, can:

a) Identify communities that have trafficking issues.

b) Build relationships and embark on the journey with other denominations and local community members.

c) Help people understand and look for signs of trafficking and know how and where to report them.

d) Invite professional service organisations to help educate communities on the issues and also connect those in need with these services.

e) Provide a platform for people to engage in human trafficking prevention.

f) Provide training to other local churches and communities as they may be aware of the situation but lack capacity to deal with it.

g) Recognise that exploitation and trafficking may be a cultural blind spot. Churches are advised to look within and ensure its members are not engaged in exploitative practices and its preaching and teaching does not support this.

h) Church leaders need to be fully engaged and supportive through prayer, preaching and small group participation.

Welcoming people who have experienced trafficking into the church:

  1. Churches may have direct contact with a survivor outside a formal programme. Church leaders and members therefore need to be trained and equipped to be welcoming and caring, aware of the trauma survivors may have experienced.
  2. Survivors of trafficking who come to church need ongoing support and follow up.
  3. Survivors need to be welcomed into church without judgement or stigma, and involved in the church’s activities without discrimination. Churches should not ask survivors to change their faith as a condition of receiving support.
  4. A simple pastoral visit to people who have experienced trafficking will help show that they are valued.
  5. Churches should treat survivors of trafficking as one of their own. Survivors should not be labelled, or their identity determined by their experience. In meeting with survivors, church members need to empathise, listen, care, respect confidentiality, be non-judgemental and provide hope.
  6. Churches need to practise empathy rather than sympathy with survivors. Empathy means feeling with people and is about understanding the perspective of the other person; it is relational and creates connection. Sympathy means feeling for the other person. It is feeling ‘from the outside’ and often involves judgement, which can make survivors feel more disconnected and isolated.
  7. Recovery for survivors can take days, months or years. It is important to recognise that each survivor is unique and that a person can heal physically before they heal emotionally. Churches need to commit to journey with survivors at the survivor’s own pace.



Partnership is essential in the fight against human trafficking.

The Freedom Framework highlights all the various elements needed to overcome human trafficking. The Church does not need to operate in all these areas; rather, it needs to map which organisations are working in the different areas and build partnerships. Churches can identify their own unique assets as well as the gaps in response and plan their activities from there, in partnership with others.

The Anglican Alliance recommends the following principles for guiding church partnerships:

  1. Where appropriate, churches should work in partnership with local community structures, local government and national government to ensure responses are as effective as possible and sustainable. Churches can also partner, where appropriate, with law enforcement, NGOs and civil society groups, business, the media and arts groups, and others.
  2. Partnerships should be formed in all the response areas: prevention, protection, participation, prosecution, policy, proof and prayer.  Churches can map who is working in each of the other areas to help provide a comprehensive response to trafficking.
  3. Partnerships should be developed on the basis of shared values, trust, teamwork, maintaining professional relationships, building collaboration and encouraging effective and lasting change.
  4. Partnerships require commitment, resources and evaluation of their effectiveness. They are not always easy and might need support and guidance.
  5. At a local, national, regional and international level, church leaders can actively participate in anti-trafficking networks.
  6. National church leaders might (in some places) have the opportunity to work with state governments to implement policy or to brief the government on policy recommendations, programming and funding. Coming together as a Communion, there are also opportunities for speaking prophetically on these issues through global advocacy.
  7. Human trafficking is an illegal trade that operates through the structures and unwitting involvement of legitimate businesses. It is therefore important that the Church works with the private sector, including banks and businesses, as they have a unique role in the fight against trafficking.
  8. Partners should make and maintain up-to-date directories of the services they provide, so they are best able to work together and refer.
  9. People who have experienced trafficking need to be seen as partners in this work and their voice critical to informing the Church’s response at all levels. The Church should provide supported opportunities for survivors to input in this work – but only if they wish and it is in their best interests.
  10. The community is a partner. The Church needs to listen to the community and treat it as an equal partner.
  11. Key points to remember about partnerships include:
    • There are different forms of partnerships appropriate for different purposes. When a partnership changes form, or comes to an end, partners need be honest with one another and maintain respect.
    • There should be a mutual understanding between partners.
    • Partnership is about building relationships to share resources, information and ideas, encourage each other and achieve a common goal.
    • Regular and clear communication is important to sustain partnerships.
    • Partners have an obligation – and should be expected – to be reliable, accountable and dependable.
    • Advocacy for change is stronger when people work together.
    • Partnerships enable a fuller response against trafficking through partners complementing each other’s strengths and areas of working.
    • To start a partnership, one side might need to be proactive in reaching out and making contact to start the conversation, so that each side can learn about the other and establish whether a partnership would be complementary and effective.
    • It is helpful to make agreements about the partnership, covering aspects such as confidentiality, roles, rules and limitations of the partnership.
  12. Partners should avoid competing with one another. They should look to fill gaps in the overall response rather than duplicating responses. Partners should seek to uphold and raise the profile of all in the partnership.




Good policy and legislation and their implementation are essential if trafficking and slavery are to be stopped.

The Church has an important role to play in advocating for effective laws, monitoring their implementation and ensuring their communities know about such legislation.

The Anglican Alliance recommends that churches are guided by the following recommendations and principles in their policy work:

  1. The advocacy stance of the Church in relation to policy should be informed by the experiences of survivors and victims of trafficking and given credibility by its work and contact with them.
  2. Churches should seek to understand what contributes to effective anti-trafficking policy, learning from up to date research, and advocate for policy change where national legislation is inadequate.
  3. Learning about legislation in other parts of the world, and how it has been implemented successfully, can also be an effective way of improving and strengthening policy.
  4. Working alongside other churches, other faith groups and other organisations can be an effective way of advocating for policy change.
  5. The Church should endorse and promote international protocols that address trafficking and slavery.
  6. The Church should endeavour to promote and share its learning in relation to policy.
  7. The Church must model good practice by adhering to legislation and ensuring that all its activities, its employment practices and the services and goods it uses meet legislative standards.
  8. All churches must develop protection / safeguarding procedures for children and vulnerable adults and ensure they are followed.




Effective prosecution of traffickers can act as a deterrent to others and ensure justice for victims.

Opportunities for churches to be involved in prosecution will depend on their national context and particular circumstances and capacity – and are likely to be fewer than for other areas of response.

The following are global principles for response in this area. They will need to be adapted to reflect local realities, which will be very different in different parts of world. Safety considerations must be taken highly seriously both for the victims/survivors and those involved in the response: trafficking is perpetrated by dangerous and ruthless criminals.

  1. Churches need to have knowledge of their national laws and the global legislation on trafficking, as well as the relevant judicial procedures for prosecuting traffickers. They need to work within these frameworks.
  2. Churches can work with survivors to ensure they understand their legal rights, how they can pursue legal cases, and what will be involved at each stage in order that they are fully informed in making decisions about their involvement in legal cases.
  3. Churches should seek training from people with relevant qualifications to ensure they know how to ask the right questions, avoid re-traumatisation and gather the necessary information for prosecution using the current legislation.
  4. Where a survivor decides to pursue legal action, churches can offer to support them through the process. This might be by providing translation services, accommodation, or psychological or financial support.
  5. Where children are involved, it is important that they are treated and supported in a way that is appropriate for their age. This includes during the taking of evidence and, where possible, advocating for them to give statements remotely. It is important to work with professional children’s services to ensure best practice in caring for the children.
  6. Judicial cases can be long processes and involve having to re-visit details surrounding exploitation, which can re-traumatise survivors. Churches need to be alert to the needs of a survivor at each stage of the process and to do their best to provide support to accommodate their individual needs.
  7. Accurate information is crucial for effective prosecution. The Church, through its work, may be in a position to provide information to the police and other authorities, which may be needed in judicial processes. For example, where churches work with victims of trafficking, they can gather basic anonymised data and information or provide details of recruitment agencies involved in exploitation.
  8. Churches can advocate for justice for both victims and perpetrators. This includes raising awareness of false criminalisation and ensuring that people who are forced to commit crimes by others are not unfairly prosecuted.
  9. Once justice has been served, churches may also have a role in the long-term rehabilitation of perpetrators.




Tackling trafficking and slavery is serious and demanding work.

Ill-informed responses and impulsive reactions based on emotions can be damaging to victims/survivors and dangerous to all involved.

Proof, here, means ensuring that action is grounded in solid research and based on evidence.

The Anglican Alliance recommends the following principles and practices concerning proof:

  1. Proof should underpin and inform every aspect of a church’s response to human trafficking and slavery. Activities and programmes should be guided, designed and implemented using an evidence-based approach.
  2. Monitoring and evaluation processes are essential for assessing the effectiveness of anti-trafficking initiatives, both at local and regional/ international level. Churches should monitor and evaluate any initiatives in which they are involved – and be willing and committed to make changes to improve their effectiveness where needed.
  3. Research guided by reliable data is crucial for informing anti-trafficking work. Churches should not only seek to learn from current research and use it to guide their work, but also look to contribute to the body of research by collecting their own data and collaborating with other organisations.
  4. All data and evidence collected must be collected and stored legally. Informed consent must be given for the sharing of data.




Prayer is at the heart of Christian life.






The Anglican Alliance recommends the following principles and practices in relation to praying to end trafficking and slavery:

  1. As the Church, we will uphold prayer as an integral part of our anti-trafficking response, remembering that it is something that everyone can be involved in and contribute to.
  2. Prayer underpins and strengthens all the other areas of response in the Freedom Framework.
  3. National and international days of prayer against trafficking are important ways to engage people to pray in this area and important opportunities to partner with other churches.
  4. Freedom Sunday (or The Day of Freedom) is an annual opportunity for churches to pray and study about the issues and reaffirm their commitment to ending trafficking and slavery.
  5. Churches can seek to develop and use resources that support prayer in this area, including Bible studies, prayer guides etc.


Freedom Sunday / The Day of Freedom

Freedom Sunday (or Friday/Saturday depending on which day the primary communal act of worship takes place) is an annual day when churches across the world study, reflect and pray about the issue of human trafficking. Churches choose their own date and plan their services around the issue of human trafficking. They can pray for victims, consumers, and those working in the area of anti-trafficking across the world. Churches can make a commitment to work against human trafficking in their local area and to continue praying for those across the world who are affected by this issue, that freedom might come about.

The initiative takes place across many denominations, and a variety of resources have been produced to enable churches to plan Freedom Sunday services and to take action in their communities, including sermon ideas, worship, prayers and bible studies.