The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSEC) Parliamentary Assembly today adopted U.S. Congressman Chris Smith's (NJ-04) proposal to change how the transportation and hospitality industry works to identify and assist victims of human trafficking.
Smith, a U.S. member of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and its Special Representative on Human Trafficking Issues, proposed the plan to increase global co-operation in the fight against modern day slavery. The vote comes just weeks after Smith teamed up with the Ukrainian government, the 2013 Chair of the OSCE, to begin holding workshops to help airline employees work with law enforcement personnel to identify potential victims of trafficking while respecting civil liberties and minimizing transportation disruptions.
"This vote today recognizes that airline, hotel and transportation professionals are in a unique position to identify potential victims to get them help they need so we can end this dehumanizing crime," said Smith, co-chair of the U.S. Commission for Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission). "Situational awareness and the training to confidently know what to do and when will save thousands of victims' lives. Flight attendants are in the unique position -- especially on long flights -- to observe a potential trafficking in progress and then call a trafficking hotline or inform the pilot to radio ahead so that the proper authorities intervene as they deplane," said Smith, the author of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, the landmark U.S. anti-trafficking law which established the U.S. State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report (2013 TIP Report).
"Over time -- as the pimps and perpetrators get caught and jailed -- the added positive consequence of trained flight attendants and others will have a profound chilling effect on the traffickers' ability to move victims from one place to another," Smith said. "The current-day risk to a trafficker of getting caught transporting a victim is pathetically small. And they know it. You and I have the ability to change that."
Smith's resolution on Trafficking Victim Watchfulness urges countries to establish training regimes in collaboration with the travel industry to prevent trafficking and facilitate law enforcement intervention to get victims needed care. The resolution draws on guidelines established by the Global Business Coalition Against Trafficking and NGOs, including Airline Ambassadors, and hotel owners concerned about addressing this ongoing crime.
Smith is the co-chair of the Congressional Human Trafficking Caucus, and has held numerous hearings on human trafficking.