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Airlines and Australia fight slavery and trafficking

August 10, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

“Free the slaves and end human trafficking!” Who could disagree? And although the terms conjure up medieval images, the problems are modern and real.

The latest Global Slavery Index reports that Australia imports nearly USD 12 billion worth of goods “at risk” of being made by operations that use slave labour. Products reportedly cover computer products, clothing, fish, cocoa “and even human organs”.

Modern ways of defining slavery don’t concentrate on where slaves are located, but rather on who profits by them. On that measure, Australia has about 15,000 “slaves” according to one estimate published in the Guardian. There have also been recent convictions for slavery on Australian soil.

Australia is in the process of tightening up anti-slavery laws to combat activates like forced labour, human trafficking, forced marriage, wage exploitation, involuntary servitude, debt bondage and slavery-like exploitation.

The United Nations estimates 25 million people around the world are held in slave-like conditions, often driven by global supply chains, the ABC reports.

At the same time, airlines and airports are backing United Nations efforts to end human trafficking, often associated with slavery and slave trading. IATA has pointed out that aviation connects the world, carrying more than four billion passengers a year, “but this global network is also used nefariously by traffickers to transport people against their will”.

A recent IATA statement said: “Airlines and airports are determined to assist authorities by reporting suspected human trafficking cases, and making it as difficult as possible for the global air transport network to be exploited for this evil trade, which affects some 25 million people annually.

“The industry is committed to raising awareness, helping to train staff to recognise the signs of trafficking, and putting in place reporting protocols to alert the appropriate authorities.”

IATA’s director general and chief executive, Alexandre de Juniac, added: “Human trafficking creates misery for millions, and helps fund criminal gangs and terrorism.

“Aviation is the business of freedom. And we are taking action to help authorities ensure that our global network is not exploited for evil ends. As an industry, we have our eyes open, and are working with governments and law enforcement to stop trafficking. Through a joint campaign with our airport colleagues, we hope to further mobilize the aviation industry in the fight against this abhorrent trade in people’s lives.”

Slavery and human trafficking

Angela Gittens, director general of Airport Council International (ACI) World, a non-profit organisation representing the world’s airports, called people trafficking “an appalling crime which we should do all we can to combat.

“The safety and security of passengers remains all airports’ number one priority and the airport community is determined to work with border authorities and our partners across the world in helping to put a stop to this activity. We stand together with our airline colleagues in keeping our eyes open to the signs of human trafficking. Many of our airport members are already demonstrating their commitment to the campaign. We continue to strengthen our combined efforts in awareness, training, and reporting.”

Written by Peter Needham

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