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Port of Seattle takes steps to combat human trafficking

The Seattle Port Commission passed a resolution Tuesday, calling for a combination of training, resources, policies and partnerships to address the issue.

   The Port of Seattle is instituting a new port-wide strategy to combat human trafficking through its facilities, including Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, the port announced Wednesday, coinciding with January’s status as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
   The Seattle Port Commission passed a resolution during its Tuesday meeting that calls for a combination of training, resources, policies and partnerships to address the issue.
   “Once fully implemented, this strategy would not only position the port as a regional leader on the issue, but also one of the top ports in the country implementing anti-trafficking efforts,” the port said in a statement.
   At a Wednesday press conference to announce the strategy, the port said its approach would focus on four areas: ensuring all employees have access to training and education; utilizing port facilities and communication channels to raise public awareness; collaborating with nonprofits, government agencies and private sector partners to maximize impact; and ensuring port policies and procedures are up to date to report suspicion of human trafficking.
   “Human trafficking is not just a global issue, it’s a local issue,” Port of Seattle Commission President Courtney Gregoire said. “The port has been engaged in this topic for years, but now is the perfect opportunity to increase our regional leadership on this topic. As a major employer, an operator of an airport and maritime facilities, and a partner, we can do more to reduce demand, assist victims and raise public awareness.”
   Millions of men, women and children are trafficked in countries around the world each year, including the United States. It’s estimated that human trafficking generates billions of dollars of profit per year – second only to drug trafficking – as the most profitable form of transnational crime.
   A 2012 International Labour Organization study estimates there about 21 million victims of human trafficking globally: 68 percent of them are trapped in forced labor, 26 percent of them are children, and 55 percent are women and girls.
   A 2016 U.S. Department of Labor report found that 139 goods from 75 countries were being made by forced and child labor.