Stop Human Traffickers
Training Travel And Tourism Professionals Can Help Save Lives
Numerous signs of human trafficking are recognizable, if only we could learn to see them. Airline Ambassadors International (AAI) believes a large part of the solution is to train travel-industry personnel to recognize and report human trafficking without hesitation.
Human traffickers are international, highly trained criminals. Stopping them will not be easy. Though they can be virtually invisible, human traffickers are often found in airports worldwide. They utilize the same reservations procedures and fly on the same airlines as thousands of other passengers around the globe.
Travel Industry Fights Human Trafficking
Representatives from Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, Silver Airways, United Airlines, US Airways and Hilton Hotels joined U.S. Congressman Chris Smith (left) and Ukraine Ambassador Oleksandr Motsyk in June to announce the first training of flight crew in Europe.
“We are all responsible for ending this dehumanizing crime,” said U.S. Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) who, in 2000, authored legislation entitled the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. “But the fact is that airline, hotel and transportation professionals are in a unique position to identify potential victims and get them the help they need.”
Also in 2000, the United States signed the Palermo Protocol, which aims to prevent commercial carriers from being used in the commission of trafficking offenses. Though the protocol has been signed by 117 countries, few airlines have implemented any of the targeted initiatives.
Airline Ambassadors International is the only independent charity of the airline industry and has become integrally involved in this global fight. First and foremost, AAI is fully committed to increasing awareness and combating human trafficking. The more people who are aware of the problem and know how to report it, the greater chances there are that another human trafficker will be caught and brought to justice.
Human traffickers use over-crowded airports and other busy locations to become virtually invisible so they are not as easily detected when attempting to transport a victim. Despite their disguise, if myriad individuals are trained to recognize signs of human trafficking, fewer people will become victims to this crime.
One of the most impactful ways to fight this crime against humanity is by training professionals in the travel, tourism and hospitality industries. Increased awareness and knowledge will enable employees to decipher certain patterns of suspicious behavior and ultimately stop this crime.
We can, in other words, help save people’s lives and rescue them from the grasp of manipulative individuals who are striving to keep human beings in a lifetime of slavery.
In 2009, AAI began dedicating itself to help end the suffering resulting from human trafficking. Through partnerships with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection. and other international agencies, AAI developed a travel-industry-specific anti-trafficking training program: Recognize It and Report It. AAI’s anti-trafficking program supports the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign and United Nations Officer of Drugs and Crime’s Blue Heart Campaign.
Key aspects of AAI’s Recognize It and Report It anti-trafficking awareness training include:
- Background and overview of the greater human-trafficking issue,
- Specific factors that may be clues that a situation is not “normal” — from a simple observation of clothing and certain behaviors to the victim’s interaction with the possible trafficker,
- Confrontation avoidance — tips on how not to react to a situation,
- Protocol for reporting suspected human trafficking to law enforcement.
In 2011, San Francisco International Airport became the first U.S. airport to provide AAI’s Recognize It and Report It anti-trafficking training to employees to identify instances of human trafficking. Since then, AAI has provided 20 customized training programs, including Dallas/ Fort Worth International Airport, during the 2011 Super Bowl.
Human trafficking is a multi-billion-dollar-a-year business. Each year, some 800,000 men, women and children become victims. Today, 27 million humans are held in captivity, and that number will continue to grow unless more people get involved and help stop it.
Recognizing that geographic regions have different partners and protocols, AAI works with local experts to create customized training presentations that reflect the jurisdiction. Recently, AAI conducted its Recognize It and Report It training in the Ukraine — the first anti-trafficking training of its kind in Europe. Additional trainings are greatly needed in metropolitan regions such as New York, Miami, Chicago and Las Vegas, where incidents of human trafficking are significantly higher.
AAI recently expanded its customized training programs to Sabre Holdings®, the first travel technology company to sign the tourism Code of Conduct and to build human-trafficking awareness among its employees and throughout the tourism industry. During the Sabre Holdings® official kick-off to Passport to Freedom (its initiative to fight human trafficking), AAI provided its proven anti-trafficking training to Sabre Holdings employees. AAI is proud of its partnership with Sabre Holdings.
With 80 percent of human trafficking victims transported transnationally, airports are major hubs of entry and exit for perpetrators and victims alike. Therefore, it is the responsibility of a wide range of travel industry leaders to proactively raise awareness, educate and provide an effective means of reporting this horrendous crime against humanity.
Recognize It And Report It
In the fight against human trafficking, Airline Ambassadors International created an anti-trafficking training program called Recognize It and Report It specific to the travel and tourism industries. While training individuals in other industries as well as the traveling public is critical, airlines, airports and hotels are in a unique position based on their exposure to human traffickers.