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Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao is launching an award to incentivize increased awareness and prevention of human trafficking among transportation industry representatives.
According to a notice published in the Federal Register on Dec. 18, the annual Combating Human Trafficking in Transportation Impact Award was initially recommended by the Department of Transportation’s Advisory Committee on Human Trafficking. The committee, formed in October 2018, includes leaders of organizations that fight modern slavery, along with academics and representatives of the trucking, bus, rail, aviation, maritime and port industries.
Human trafficking, which involves the use of force to obtain labor or a commercial sex act, exploits about 25 million people, according to the committee.
Individuals, nongovernmental organizations, transportation associations, research institutions and state government agencies may compete for the award. The winner is awarded $50,000 cash.
The goal of the award is to encourage parties to create new solutions to combat human trafficking and share those creations with the broader community, DOT said.
“The award serves as a platform for transportation stakeholders to unlock their creativity and empower them to develop impactful and innovative counter-trafficking tools, initiatives, campaigns and technologies that can help defeat this heinous crime,” the Federal Register document states.
Submissions from contenders will be accepted from Jan. 1, 2020, through Jan. 31, 2020. Entries will be evaluated on the basis of technical merit, originality, measurability, impact and applicability.
The award will be part of DOT’s Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking initiative, a group of transportation and travel industry representatives who connect groups to resources on training, policy development and public awareness. Participants in the initiative, which was formed in 2012, engage by signing pledges, developing reporting protocols, training employees and conducting public awareness campaigns.
DOT’s 55,000 employees are trained every three years to recognize and report signs of human trafficking. Beyond that, DOT works with the Department of Homeland Security to offer training geared toward professionals in the rail, motorcoach and aviation industries.
Members of the transportation industry, including truck drivers, are uniquely well-situated to identify and stop human trafficking because they spend so much time on the road. The Advisory Committee on Human Trafficking’s final report, submitted July 2, indicates that, from 2007 to 2018, people identifying themselves as truckers made 2,250 calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. The final report, which includes 47 pages of text and 77 pages of appendices, is titled “Combating Human Trafficking in the Transportation Sector.”
The report lists indicators and strategies that apply to various members of the transportation industry, including truckers and people who operate truck stops and travel centers. The report urges fleet executives to visibly support anti-trafficking initiatives, and to partner with organizations such as Truckers Against Trafficking and establish a timeline for training programs. Similarly, truck stop operators are encouraged to participate in public awareness campaigns and partner with law enforcement groups.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced a final rule July 16 that permanently bans commercial motor vehicle drivers who have been convicted of human trafficking. Specifically, the rulemaking disqualifies drivers who use a truck to commit a felony involving human trafficking.
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