Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano has said that human trafficking can be prevented through specified training for key sector members and the general public.
She made the statement recently in a release issued at the White House in Washington at the end of a round table to commemorate the National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
She said: “If we all do our part to learn the signs of human trafficking and report them to authorities, we can better prevent human trafficking, protect victims, and prosecute traffickers,” adding, “at Department of Home land Security (DHS), we are committed to working with our partners and leveraging our wide range of expertise and resources to combat human trafficking,”
The department’s Blue Heart Campaign, a program set out to create awareness of human trafficking a year ago has also launched new forms of trainings to be distributed to key sectors, including transportation, hospitality, retail, law enforcement, first responders, and NGOs to increase awareness and educate people on how to identify and report suspected cases of human trafficking.
According to the release, the round table was not a public event but a meeting of government agencies, including the U.S. Fire Administration, the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association, National Native American Law Enforcement Association, National Latino Peace Officers Association, the Polaris Project, Airlines for America, Carlson and the National Retail Federation.
Secretary Napolitano, who understands the importance of collaborating with the public and private sectors to build a sustained effort to combat human trafficking, noted that the Blue Campaign awareness training is designed to inform the general public about how to identify and report human trafficking to the proper authorities.
The Blue Campaign is also launching awareness and training materials for the federal acquisition workforce, first responders and airline employees, to help increase awareness about the indicators of human trafficking.
In 2010, Secretary Napolitano launched the Blue Campaign– a first-of-its-kind initiative to coordinate and enhance the Department’s anti-human trafficking efforts, led by a cross-component steering committee, which is chaired by the Senior Counselor to the Secretary of Homeland Security, Alice Hill.
“The components of the Department of Homeland Security combat human trafficking through a variety of programs and the Blue Campaign helps to coordinate this work,” the release stated.
In the same vein, non-profits organizations organized events in recognition of the human trafficking awareness day.
Director of Services for New Americans program, Lutheran Social Services, Jozefina Lantz told Imprisoned Show that about 100 people, including legislative representatives, city counselors, staff and the general public were present for its awareness event held on Wednesday, January 11 in Massachusetts.
During the event, Lantz said that handouts were given out to individuals without solicitations for donations, as it was set for awareness campaign. “The public need to know that this is a horrible crime,” she said.
Lantz, who identified lack of funding as an obstacle to providing adequate service to victims mentioned that the organization is catering for 30 victims presently.
According to her, the funding provided by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to the organization as a subcontractor is no longer available, which make the services provided to victims challenging.
Lantz however urged the federal government to ensure that “funding goes to service providers” saying, “it is a difficult work, and, it is difficult because there is no funding.”
Sandy Lenz, wife of Pastor Reverend Bob Lenz of Cornerstone Wesleyan Church, Apache Junction, Arizona told Imprisoned Show in a telephone interview that 46 people participated in the awareness meeting held at the Church. She added that there were also online participants.
At the event, Lenz said that one of the local non-profits in the area was available to share fliers with the guests.
The pastor’s wife, who believed that human trafficking awareness goes beyond a day’s event stated: “we will be doing a program here every month at our church to keep the awareness ongoing and supporting other organizations.”
For more information about human trafficking, visit <a href=”www.dhs.gov/humantrafficking” target=”_blank”>www.dhs.gov/humantrafficking</a>.