The violation of human rights
Prior to the Archbishop's ordination in 1979, John Sentamu criticised Idi Amin’s regime for its violation of human rights. The Archbishop’s sentencing of Amin's soldiers led to his arrest and departure from Uganda to the UK in 1974. He has since acted as an Adviser to the Stephen Lawrence judicial inquiry in 1997-1999. The Archbishop has campaigned for the abolition of all forms of slavery and has consistently spoken out on issues such as human trafficking, sex trafficking, child slave labour.
Human trafficking & prostitution
Human trafficking is nothing more than modern day slavery. Individuals are being exploited, degraded and subjected to horrific risks solely for the gratification and economic greed of others.
The Archbishop has campaigned for the UK to tighten laws on human trafficking and in March 2011 successfully helped persuade the Government to opt in to the EU Directive on Human Trafficking.
To read the Archbishop's article about sex trafficking which appeared in the Yorkshire Post.
To read the Archbishop’s statement regarding the Government opt in
Many people who are trafficked are forced into prostitution. The Archbishop has also called for laws relating to the selling of sex to be tightened.
2007 - the anniversary year of the act for the abolition of slavery
In March 2007 the then Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and Archbishop Sentamu asked people to reflect on the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade and use the anniversary of the Act for its abolition as a springboard to take action to tackle the impact of the trade's legacies today, including examples of human trafficking and oppression across the globe.
At the Primates meeting in Tanzania in 2007 the Archbishops' attended a service in Zanzibar where the Cathedral Church now stands proudly on the site that was once the market place for the trading of slaves. The manacles and shackles which remain in the slave pit bear testament to the true inhumanity endured by those slaves.
The Archbishops' call for the commemoration of the Bicentenary of the Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade to be an agent for change in society was widely reported.
We need to rediscover a new faith-based movement for social and economic justice, which has hope, rather than anger, at its core. I believe that movement is the Church and it is my hope that as we commemorate the achievements of the abolitionists over the coming months we might also re-dedicate ourselves to being that change which we want to see in the world.Archbishop Sentamu
Freedom is Coming
On his return from the West Indies, where the evils of slavery had been rife, Archbishop Sentamu apologised for the Anglican Church's participation in the slave trade. He reflected on his visit in 2007 and compared the historical scene with forms of slavery today in a Wilberforce Lecture entitled 'Freedom is coming'. His lecture called for the eradication of below-subsistence wages and encouraged support for fair-trade produce including tea, sportswear and chocolate. The Wilberforce Lecture Trust celebrates the historic role of Kingston upon Hull in combating the abuse of Human Rights personified in the work of the abolitionist William Wilberforce.
Freeman of the City of Montego Bay and Special Convocation at the University of the West Indies
During a visit to Jamaica to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Abolition of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, Dr. Sentamu was made a free man of the city of Montego Bay and given a key to the city, which was part of the Golden Triangle of the Slave Trade.
The Archbishop was given the honour due to his "fight for justice and freedom on behalf of the fellowman".
Accepting the key of the city the Archbishop spoke of the challenges that faced cities everywhere: "The responsibility of every councillor is to ensure that Montego Bay resembles the city of God. And in the city of God, everyone is welcome. At the end we will not be judged by how well we play, but by how well we serve, particularly the poor and the people facing poverty and injustices".
Dr John Sentamu apologised to the people of the West Indies for the involvement of the Anglican Church in the transatlantic slave trade. The Archbishop was speaking at a special convocation of the University of the West Indies (UWI) where he was made an honorary Doctor of Laws. This marked the sixth time in the history of the UWI that a special convocation was held. Those honoured at past convocations include Desmond Tutu in 1986, Nelson Mandela in 1991, Colin Powell in 1994, Harry Belafonte in 1996 and Kofi Annan in 1998. Speaking at the National Arena, before a capacity crowd, Dr. Sentamu urged the congregation to pursue authenticity and to rejoice in God's individual gifts to each.
God rejoices in the fact that he created each one of you ... That is the greatest message of the sermon this morning, be yourself and don't try and be somebody else.Archbishop John Sentamu