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EyesOpen campaign aimed at human trafficking in the aviation industry

Jun 13 2018 09:20
Carin Smith

Sydney – The International Air Transport Association (Iata) is continuing efforts to mobilise the global airline industry in the fight against human trafficking, the organisation said at its recent 74th annual general meeting in Sydney.

Staff in the transport industry can play a key role in helping to combat the problem, it said.

Iata’s EyesOpen campaign focuses on raising awareness of human trafficking and offers practical guidelines for airlines.

According to Iata it is estimated – although no one can be certain of the true extent – that about 24.9 million people in the world are living, to varying degrees, in conditions of slavery. Over 70% of them are women and children.

Human trafficking is seen as the fastest-growing criminal activity in the world, worth billions of dollars.

According to the UN, about 60% of human trafficking involves crossing an international border.

Iata points out that, although the aviation industry brings economic benefits, it can also be misused by human traffickers. That is why staff across the transport industry – including airlines – can play an important role in identifying potential cases of human trafficking.

They can be an additional "set of eyes and ears" to provide intelligence about suspected cases to law enforcement, and perhaps help to prevent human trafficking.

According to Iata, airlines are facing more laws and regulation that require them to act in response to human trafficking. It said those airlines that are already training staff on human trafficking awareness, or are planning to do so, are well positioned.

"Consumers want the companies they purchase from - and investors are requiring the companies they invest in - to be good corporate citizens that do the right thing. Anti-human trafficking initiatives are good business practice," Iata said in its report.

The organisation also pointed out that apart from starting by creating awareness of the problem of human trafficking, airlines must work with law enforcement authorities to understand the reporting procedures.

Iata is currently engaging with more than 90 governments and law enforcement agencies about the need for clear, yet discreet reporting capabilities, because law enforcement retains the responsibility of apprehending and prosecuting human traffickers.

* Fin24 was a guest of Iata at its AGM.

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