The International Air Transport Association (IATA), Airports Council International (ACI) and other aviation industry partners will launch a human trafficking awareness campaign during next year’s first quarter, IATA assistant director for external Affairs Tim Colehan revealed at the association’s annual media day Tuesday.
At June’s IATA Annual General Meeting and World Air Transport Summit in Sydney, Australia, the association has committed to proposing a resolution for member airlines to commit “to denounce this horrendous crime, and do what we can do to assist in the fight.”
Dubbed #eyesopen, the campaign will initially concentrate on the airline community, Colehan said. Guidelines on training airline cabin crew are undergoing development at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCRH). The guidelines will describe types of trafficking, victim and trafficker profiles and signals that might indicate a potential trafficking situation. Program authors will also outline response and reporting procedures and possibly develop materials for airlines and airports to raise public awareness through in-flight communications and social media.
Key indicators of human trafficking include passengers not in control of their own travel documents, acting frightened or nervous, rehearsed or inconsistent stories or uncertainty about their destinations.
“The extent of this crime is truly appalling,” said Colehan. “Every minute, 50 people, mainly women and children, become victims of human trafficking. That’s about 25 million people per year, equivalent to the population of Australia. “It is the fastest-growing criminal activity.” Victims often find themselves in exploitative sexual or forced labor abuse.
“Governments and law enforcement agencies have the responsibility to identify, apprehend and prosecute those involved in trafficking,” Colehan emphasized. “But it is an issue for airlines because the air services can be misused as a means of transporting victims. Human trafficking can happen in plain sight.”
The aviation industry will model the #eyesopen campaign on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security “Blue Lightning Initiative,” created to address a 2016 Congressional requirement for air carriers to provide initial and annual flight attendant training regarding human trafficking, and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) “Blue Heart” campaign.