Air transport and Human Trafficking
Friday, 30th March 2018
Source : International Air Transport Association (IATA)

Aviation is the business of freedom: Airlines connect businesses to markets, reunite families and friends, and facilitate tourism and cultural exchange, but unfortunately, the global air transport system can also be exploited by criminals for the illegal trafficking of men, women and children.

Human trafficking is the fastest growing and second largest criminal industry in the world. A report by the International Labour Organization estimates that 24.9 million people are trafficked globally every year, over 75% of whom are women and children. That’s equivalent to the total population of Australia.

Follow the campaign using #eyesopen

Although the responsibility for identifying, apprehending and prosecuting those perpetrating human trafficking rests with governments and national law enforcement agencies, the airline industry recognizes that it can play an important role in helping to prevent this crime.

Human Trafficking / Trafficking in Persons: a definition

"Recruitment, transportation, harbouring or receipt of persons by means of the threat or use of force other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation ". Palermo Protocol 2000 (pdf) ​​​​​​​​​​

The role of the aviation industry in the fight against human trafficking

Once trained, airline, airport, ground handling, security screening and customs staff could provide an important source of intelligence to prevent human trafficking. They can recognize signs of potential trafficking situations and report their observations to the authorities both at airports and during flights.

#Eyesopen campaign to end human trafficking

The airline industry is committed to have its eyes open to do what we can to help governments and law enforcement to tackle the issue of human trafficking. The #eyesopen social media campaign is meant to facilitate discussions between passengers, airlines and governments.
Follow the campaign on social media using the #eyesopen hashtag and share our infographic (pdf).

What IATA is doing

IATA is working with its member airlines to increase staff and passenger awareness concerning the nature, scale and humanitarian consequences of human trafficking. We are now developing guidance materials and training that airlines can integrate easily into existing security and customer service training programs. These tools will be available in the coming months.

In addition, we are calling on governments and their enforcement agencies to provide clear, practical and anonymous mechanisms for airline staff so they can report potential trafficking situations.

A good example of best practice is in the United States, where the Department of Homeland Security provides a national toll (cost) free "tip line" and web form where airline staff can report their observations anonymously.

IATA is also working with airports and other stakeholders within the air transport sector to:

  • Raise awareness on human trafficking
  • Share our guidance material, including ‘recognize and report' practice

Please read IATA position paper on Human Trafficking (pdf)

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