AeroTime exclusively from Sydney | Benefits of modern aviation, often defined as a „business of freedom“, unfortunately are also used in abusive and destructive way by human traffickers. One of IATA AGM Sydney conference discussions was dedicated to new binding measures to detect and stop the crime.

The scope of the global human trafficking is hardly measurable, but the 2017 research of International Labour Organisation estimates the number of victims to be 24.9 million people in slavery, with the majority of them being women and children.

Human trafficking is a transnational crime, which assumes that victims have to pass through airports and take international flights. „Unlike other illegal smuggling activities that rely on cargo, which can be searched or scanned, human trafficking is hidden in plain sight. But there are some telltale signs which people can be trained to look for“, - says Mira Sorvino, UNODC Goodwill Ambassador to combat Human Trafficking.

Governments and law-enforcement officers have already turned their attention to potential of the transport sector staff, which possesses the advantage of prolonged contact with passengers, and, thus, if properly trained, can not only identify the suspected cases of human trafficking but also report them in accordance to their aviation company procedures.

IATA suggests that measures taken only on the level of training the staff are not enough. „We believe that a holistic or comprehensive strategy is required,“- IATA Assistant Director for External Affairs Tim Colehan says.

EyesOpen is IATA’s initiative created to increase awareness of the human trafficking nature and consequences among airlines and passengers. Apart from awareness raising, the campaign implies multiply directions, including development of special policies for airlines, and unveiling the law enforcement reporting procedures, specific for each country.

“Where and how should reports of suspected trafficking incidents be made, especially where these are on inbound flights? And, there is a need for an industry – not just airline – approach if we are truly going to be effective”, - Colehan adds.

Today IATA is trying to establish contacts with more than 90 governments and law enforcement officials in order to develop new and accurate reporting guidelines.