Posted by Maria Odom
Today, the United Nations will mark the first ever World Day Against Trafficking in Persons to raise awareness around the global issue of human trafficking and to encourage the international community to take action against this heinous crime.
Established four years ago, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Blue Campaign coordinates the Department’s ongoing efforts to work across our many missions to combat human trafficking. Fighting the hidden crime of human trafficking requires a collaborative effort, and the Blue Campaign works with DHS components to increase awareness, protect and support victims, investigate trafficking cases, and assist in the prosecution of traffickers.
DHS continues to focus an unprecedented level of resources and engagement to combat human trafficking through a victim-centered approach. The Blue Campaign offers training and educational resources, raises public awareness through a multi-format media campaign, and enters into diverse partnerships to carry the message forward, improve reporting of human trafficking, and assist our efforts to protect victims and bring traffickers to justice.
To date, more than 150,000 individuals – including government employees, law enforcement personnel, medical services providers, transportation workers, private sector employees, and many others – have been trained on the key indicators of human trafficking.
Our public awareness posters highlight examples of forced labor, domestic servitude, and commercial sex trafficking – all types of human trafficking. They can be found at 325 truck stops nationwide and on display in 14 major airports as well as the facilities of partners such as Amtrak and Western Union. The Blue Campaign public service announcement, “Out of the Shadows,” has aired more than 8,000 times on almost 90 local television stations nationwide, and also airs continuously at Amtrak stations.
We also have developed other resources that are available to the public in a variety of languages – including human trafficking indicator cards for law enforcement and first responders to help identify potential victims, and pamphlets on human trafficking and DHS capabilities and programs—all targeted to diverse audiences.
The work of the Blue Campaign relies on strong partnerships with other federal agencies, foreign governments, international organizations, law enforcement, first responders, the faith-based community, non-profit organizations, the private sector, as well as our state, local, and tribal partners. We recognize the need to engage the issue of human trafficking at a grassroots level, and our partnerships with the National League of Cities and the National Association of Counties have been a first step towards partnering with state and local governments to combat trafficking in communities across America. We continue to look for opportunities to expand our collaboration with state, local and tribal governments and the private sector to extend the reach of the Blue Campaign and its resources, and raise awareness throughout the nation.
Over the past four years, the Blue Campaign has made great progress but our work is far from over. Working with our partners we aim to increase investigations and prosecutions of human traffickers, train more law enforcement, further public awareness, and even better identify, rescue and improve services for victims. I encourage you to visit www.dhs.gov/bluecampaign to learn more, get involved, and join us in the fight against human trafficking.