IATA acknowledges it has a role in combatting human trafficking


The International Air Transport Association (IATA) acknowledges it is in the business of freedom and at the same time knows the global air transport system can be criminally exploited for the illegal trafficking of people.

Human trafficking is the fastest growing and second largest criminal industry in the world. A report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates just on 25 million people are trafficked globally every year, with over 75% being women and children. “That is equivalent to the total population of Australia,” IATA said in a statement setting out the role of aviation in the fight against human trafficking.

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

A resolution denouncing human trafficking was passed at the last IATA annual general meeting. The resolution also reaffirmed airlines’ commitment to a number of actions to fight human trafficking. These include sharing of best practices, staff training and reporting.

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

In addition to working with member airlines to increase staff and passenger awareness, IATA is calling on governments and their enforcement agencies to provide clear, practical and anonymous mechanisms for airline staff to report potential trafficking situations. A good example of best practice, the Association said, is the US Department of Homeland Security national toll cost- free “tip line” and web form where airline staff can report observations anonymously.

IATA is also working with airports and other stakeholders in the air transport sector to raise awareness on human trafficking and share guidance material, including the ‘recognise and report’ practice.