WASHINGTON – The fight against human trafficking is getting reinforcements from Amtrak employees,who will be trained to identify and report potential victims of human trafficking they might encounter on the job.
Napolitano,who referred to human trafficking as “modern day slavery,” said DHS has worked to educate its employees about human trafficking,but more partners were important to end the practice.
“Even through human trafficking can happen anywhere,it’s often a hidden crime,” she said. “That’s why we welcome partnership that expands the reach of individuals.”
Amtrak President Joe Boardman said senior-level officials at Amtrak have already begun training to identify and report human trafficking victims and will begin training the rest of the company’s 8,000 employees.
The training is an extension of the Blue Campaign – human trafficking awareness program DHS began in 2010. It covers physical,behavioral and social signs victims might display,such as not having control of their traveling documents,not having a logical means of reaching their destination or showing signs of fear and stress.
Employees are expected to be able to identify potential human traffickers and victims and then report the incident to Amtrak police. Boardman said Amtrak also has contact with nearly every local police station its trains travel in 46 states (all but Alaska,Hawaii,South Dakota and Wyoming),the District of Columbia and Canada.
Although exact number of human trafficking victims is difficult to determine,the United Nations said 2.5 million victims worldwide is a conservative estimate. Napolitano said the number of victims is 20 million.
Boardman said no human traffickers have been caught so far but since the service is available to anyone who buys a ticket,people of all types use it. An estimated 30.2 million passengers rode Amtrak in the year ending in September 2011 – the largest annual total in Amtrak’s history.
The DHS and DOT announcement comes a week after President Barack Obama addressed the topic before world leaders at the Clinton Global Initiative. LaHood said Obama has “directed all of us in this administration,in his cabinet,to strengthen the administration’s effort to stop human trafficking.”
Napolitano said that from October 2010 to September 2011,U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcements initiated 700 human trafficking investigations,which lead to 900 arrests and 270 convictions.
Reach reporter Emily Wilkins at [email protected] or 202-326-9867. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.