Combating human trafficking: Awareness campaign set to begin

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Combating human trafficking: Awareness campaign set to begin
The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) is partnering with Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) to bring the Freedom Drivers Project traveling exhibit to the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia beginning Aug. 18 and continuing through the end of the fair on Aug. 21.

WASHINGTON — Mexico is joining the U.S. and Canada for this year’s Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) three-day Human Trafficking Awareness Initiative.

The initiative is designed to raise awareness and is an outreach effort to educate commercial motor vehicle drivers, motor carriers, law enforcement officers and the general public about the crime of human trafficking, along with the signs to look for and what drivers should do if they suspect someone is being trafficked.

Mexico’s Human Trafficking Awareness Initiative is scheduled for March 15-17. In the U.S., the initiative is slated for Jan. 11-13. In Canada, it’s scheduled for Feb. 22-24.

According to the United Nations, human trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of people through force, fraud or deception with the aim of exploiting them for profit. Men, women and children of all ages and from all backgrounds can become victims of this crime, which occurs in every region of the world, including North America.

Through a collaboration with Mexico’s Ministry of Infrastructure, Communications and Transportation, The Well of Life, the Citizen Council for Security and Justice of Mexico City, and Truckers Against Trafficking, a Spanish-language educational video on human trafficking and wallet cards were created and are available for distribution to drivers and motor carriers in Mexico.

In addition, during the three-day outreach and awareness initiatives, CVSA jurisdictions in Canada, Mexico and the U.S. will note human trafficking awareness and outreach data and submit that data to the Alliance.

“As the Alliance launches this new annual human trafficking awareness and outreach campaign, we’re pleased to have all three countries of this North American organization participate in the effort to eradicate the crime of human trafficking,” said CVSA President Capt. John Broers with the South Dakota Highway Patrol.

To find out what jurisdictions in Canada, Mexico and the U.S. are doing to increase human trafficking awareness, drivers are urged to contact the agency/department responsible for overseeing commercial motor vehicle safety in their area.

Some of the warning signs that a person may be the victim of trafficking are: Appearing malnourished; showing signs of physical injuries and abuse; avoiding eye contact, social interaction and authority figures/law enforcement; seeming to adhere to scripted or rehearsed responses in social interaction; or appearing destitute/lacking personal possessions.

“Human trafficking takes place on every mode of transportation in America – and we must change that,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “I ask all transportation professionals to join this effort, and it’s equally important for commuters and travelers to be empowered to recognize and report signs of human trafficking anywhere it happens in our transportation systems.”

Buttigieg’s remarks come as the DOT announces the recipient of its annual $50,000 “Combating Human Trafficking in Transportation Impact Award,” which provides resources for individuals and organizations that are developing innovative initiatives to combat human trafficking in the transportation sector. These could include new technology, tools, or campaigns. The award was established in late 2019 after a recommendation by the Department’s Advisory Committee on Human Trafficking.

As the first-place awardee, the A21 Campaign is expanding its Can You See Me? Roadside Billboard Initiative of 1,000 counter-trafficking billboards in 46 cities across the U.S. The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development earned second place for its Combating Silence: Increasing Awareness to Louisiana Human Trafficking proposal to reach up to 5.3 million road users. Busing on the Lookout received third place for its Capturing Innovation to Build Public Transit’s Capacity to Combat Human Trafficking proposal that will engage up to 72 transit agencies to increase human trafficking training, partnerships, awareness, and reporting among transit agencies throughout the country.

The awards follow the recent release of the Biden-Harris Administration’s National Action Plan (NAP) to Combat Human Trafficking, a whole-of-government approach that prioritizes combating human trafficking through prevention, protection, prosecution and partnerships.

As part of its commitment to support the NAP, DOT will increase stakeholder engagement, expand training and awareness for transportation employees and the traveling public, and continue to ensure that states permanently ban drivers convicted of human trafficking from operating a commercial motor vehicle for which a commercial driver’s license or a commercial learner’s permit is required.

Some of the other ways in which DOT is working to combat human trafficking include:

  • The Department 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 coordinate Federal efforts to combat trafficking in persons.
  • The Department’s Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking (TLAHT) initiative comprises more than 500 transportation and travel industry stakeholders working jointly to maximize their collective impact in combating human trafficking across all modes of transportation. Stakeholders can sign the TLAHT pledge by clicking here.
  • DOT continues to underscore the important role transportation ministries have in combating human trafficking through its participation in multilateral organizations, including the International Civil Aviation Organization, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Transportation Working Group, and the International Transport Forum.

For more information about the department’s efforts to end human trafficking, click here.

Recently, five missing teenage girls that were considered endangered were found in a lengthy, months-long rescue by multiple agencies in Louisiana. According to an article by NBC, the operation titled, “Boo Dat,” involved multiple agencies including the New Orleans Police Department, U.S. Marshals Service New Orleans Task Force and Louisiana State Police. The operation was completed over a period of months between mid-October to Dec. 24.

The girls, ranging in age from 14 to 17, were located in a variety of places. Two of the girls were sisters, ages 15 and 16 and it is believed they “may have been victims of adult felony criminal sexual activities,” according to a release. The girls were located at an apartment in Baton Rouge.

Thirty people were arrested and 17 of the 30 people had violated their sex offender registry restrictions.

The Trucker News Staff

The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.

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The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.
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