USDOT works to combat human trafficking in the transportation sector

Posted: 2 February 2023 | | No comments yet

As part of its efforts to combat human trafficking in the transportation sector, USDOT highlights the work that it is doing in partnership with public-private stakeholders in the industry to raise awareness and recognise the warning signs of this crime.

USDOT launches initiatives to combat human trafficking in transport sector

Credit: U.S. Department of Transportation

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has announced that it is taking several actions to raise awareness about human trafficking and how to recognise and prevent this crime, as it works to combat human trafficking in the transportation sector.  

“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 (January) is an opportunity for us to re-double our anti-trafficking efforts by making sure travellers know how to recognise and report the warning signs and by embracing innovative approaches and strategies like the ones we’re recognising today.” 

USDOT has stated that signs of suspected human trafficking may include individuals that appear not to have the freedom of movement or social interaction, appear not to have control of their travel identification or documents, are controlled or 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 USDOT Advisory Committee on Human Trafficking’s Combating Human Trafficking in the Transportation Sector report includes additional multimodal indicators.

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Furthermore, the department’s Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking (TLAHT) initiative comprises of over 550 transportation and travel industry stakeholders that work jointly to maximise 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 organisations. 

Additional ways in which USDOT is working annually to combat human trafficking include:

  • The department re-chartered the Advisory Committee on Human Trafficking (ACHT) using its authorities under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). The ACHT will develop a counter-trafficking report with recommendations for countering human trafficking, an assessment of best practices by transportation stakeholders, and human trafficking violations involving commercial motor vehicles
  • USDOT is a member of the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (PITF), a cabinet-level entity chaired by the Secretary of State to co-ordinate federal efforts to combat trafficking in persons
  • The department continues to underscore the important role transportation ministries have in combating human trafficking through its participation in multilateral organisations, including the International Transport Forum (ITF), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Transportation Working Group (APEC).