The U.S. Department of Transportation is marking National Human Trafficking Prevention Month by taking several actions to raise awareness about human trafficking and how to recognize and prevent this terrible crime. The Department said January 27 that combating human trafficking in the transportation sector is a top priority.
“Every year, human traffickers seek to use America’s transportation systems to facilitate unspeakable crimes,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigieg. “National Human Trafficking Prevention Month is an opportunity for us to redouble our anti-trafficking efforts by making sure travelers know how to recognize and report the warning signs and by embracing innovative approaches and strategies like the ones we’re recognizing today.”
According to the International Labour Organization, globally, as many as 27.6 million people – or 3.5 out of every 1,000 people – are victims of forced labor, including commercial sexual exploitation. In 2021, the National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH) worked on 10,360 cases of human trafficking in the United States.
On January 27, Secretary Buttigieg announced the winner and runners up of the Department’s 2022 Combating Human Trafficking in Transportation Impact Award, which incentivizes innovative solutions to combat human trafficking in the transportation industry. The Port of Seattle won first-place for its “Airports United Against Human Trafficking” proposal to convene a national steering committee of up to 20 diverse airports, and scale the port’s comprehensive counter-trafficking approach into an awareness toolkit for use by airports nationwide.
Trinity Metro earned second place for its “Stop Human Trafficking Campaign” proposal to implement counter-trafficking training for Dallas-Fort Worth area transit workers and first responders, raise awareness among the traveling public, and train more than 40 local governments in the region. The Colorado Human Trafficking Council received third place for its “This is Human Trafficking” campaign proposal to conduct a state-wide campaign to raise awareness through gas stations and convenience stores along the main arteries of I-70 and I-25.
Signs of suspected human trafficking may include individuals that appear not to have freedom of movement or social interaction, appear not to have control of their travel identification or documents, are controlled by, or are unusually submissive to, their traveling companion, seem coached when speaking to authority or law enforcement, have no logical means of reaching their final destination, are traveling on a last-minute booking paid by someone else in cash, or may be dropped off by a vehicle at a truck and picked up 15-20 minutes later. The DOT Advisory Committee on Human Trafficking's Combating Human Trafficking in the Transportation Sector report includes additional multimodal indicators.
The Department’s Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking (TLAHT) initiative comprises over 550 transportation and travel industry stakeholders working jointly to maximize their collective impact in combating human trafficking across all modes of transportation. Stakeholders can join the effort by signing the TLAHT pledge, and accessing transportation-specific counter-trafficking resources online. TLAHT pledge signatories include airports and airlines, urban and rural transit agencies, trucking and bus companies, ports, railways, state departments of transportation, industry associations, states, cities, and non-governmental organizations.
Additional actions that the Department is taking this month to combat human trafficking include:
For more information about the Department’s efforts to end human trafficking, click here.
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