WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last week in Kyiv the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) adopted an update to its plan to combat trafficking in human beings. It incorporates key elements from proposals launched by U.S. Congressman Chris Smith.
“The Addendum updates the OSCE Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings with the best practices developed in the United States and other OSCE participating States,” said Smith, Co-Chairman of the Commission for Security and Cooperation in Europe, as well as the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Special Representative on Human Trafficking Issues. “The Addendum sets before each OSCE participating State and OSCE institutions themselves a challenging, but achievable way forward in the fight against human trafficking.”
Adopted at the 20th OSCE Ministerial Council in Kyiv, the eight-page document builds on the original Action Plan, last updated in 2005, and takes into account lessons learned as well as developments in human trafficking trends over the last eight years. Co-Chairman Smith welcomed in particular the sections of the Addendum that call for anti-trafficking training in the commercial transportation industry, such as airline attendants, train operators, and bus drivers. This and other elements of the new Action Plan were initially promoted within the OSCE by Rep. Smith, who presented them as supplementary items at the annual meetings of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in 2011, 2012, and 2013.
“Flight attendants and other commercial transportation employees are well-placed to identify the 600,000 to 800,000 trafficking victims who are moved across international borders and the millions who are moved internally each year, and yet we have failed to train them—until now,” Smith said. “The new Addendum to the Action Plan calls on participating States to fill the training gap and to ensure coordination with law enforcement so that we will not fail to rescue victims who are trafficked in plain sight.”
After a 2010 Capitol Hill summit convened by Co-Chairman Smith regarding trafficking on airlines, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security developed and recently released the “Blue Lightning” training to equip U.S. airlines in the fight against human trafficking. Delta Airlines and JetBlue have become the first to implement the program. Airline Ambassadors, a humanitarian non-governmental organization, continues to offer similar training for airlines based in other OSCE participating States.
Co-Chairman Smith also welcomed provisions calling on participating States to ensure anti-trafficking training for personnel working in the tourism and hospitality industry.
“Hotel personnel are on the front lines to notice something suspicious, such as a young girl alone in a hotel room being visited by men twice her age, or a middle-aged man with the impoverished local child that is not his own. With proper employee training and law enforcement coordination we can stop traffickers and ‘sex tourists’ from exploiting women and children in hotels and motels,” said Smith. “In addition, participating States can privately warn law enforcement at the destination when known child sex offenders are traveling, potentially for sex tourism,” said Smith, referring to a new provision in the Addendum. Co-Chairman Smith’s 2013 OSCE PA resolution on the topics can be found here.
Smith is the author of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-386), the landmark U.S. anti-trafficking law which established the U.S. State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report (2013 TIP Report), and two subsequent trafficking laws. He is also the co-chair of the Congressional Human Trafficking Caucus, and frequently chairs congressional hearings on human trafficking.
The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission, is an independent agency of the Federal Government charged with monitoring compliance with the Helsinki Accords and advancing comprehensive security through promotion of human rights, democracy, and economic, environmental and military cooperation in 57 countries. The Commission consists of nine members from the U.S. Senate, nine from the House of Representatives, and one member each from the Departments of State, Defense, and Commerce.