U.S. Congressman Praises Ukraine For Leading The Way On Human Trafficking

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine has become the first nation in Europe to train its airport employees to identify and rescue victims of human trafficking as part of an international programme to increase cooperation in the fight against modern day slavery.

U.S. Congressman Chris Smith

Kiev's proactive role has been praised by U.S. Congressman Chris Smith who was in the Ukrainian capital to address a conference on trafficking organised by the Ukrainian Chairmanship of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

"We are all responsible for ending this dehumanizing crime, but the fact is airline, hotel and transportation professionals are in a unique position to identify potential victims to get them the help they need," said Smith, who is the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Special Representative on Human Trafficking Issues.

Ukrainian aviation employees Monday took part in an innovative workshop, which trained them to identify potential victims of human trafficking.

It was hosted by Ukraine's Ministry of Infrastructure and attended by the humanitarian organization Airline Ambassadors, Ukraine's Aviation Administration and Interpol.

"I commend Ukraine for the work it has done today to focus attention on the 600,000 to 800,000 trafficking victims who are moved across borders each year and who could be rescued in transit if airline and other transportation personnel were appropriately trained and law enforcement ready to intervene," Smith said.

He added that as a result of a single workshop "hundreds, maybe thousands, more lives will be saved."

Ukraine has said it is committed to working with international organisations in a wide range of areas as part of its drive towards closer integration with Europe.

As well as cooperation on human trafficking it is working with its neighbours in the area of customs and excise, international property rights and energy issues.

Kiev hopes its reform agenda - in line with international best practices - will enable it to meet the criteria of its Association Agreement with the EU, which it expects to sign at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius in November.

The issue of human trafficking is also on the agenda for the OSCE when it meets at the end of the month for its annual session, to be held this year in Istanbul.

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