On Monday, 19 October, Latvia’s leading aviation companies - Riga Airport and the national airline airBaltic -, the Ministry of the Interior and non-governmental organizations signed a memorandum of cooperation committing to actively cooperate in the prevention of human trafficking.
The development of the aviation sector memorandum was initiated by Riga Airport, which has already previously been involved in various activities to prevent this global crime. "Human trafficking is one of the most serious crimes, a gross violation of human rights and human dignity. As the largest airport in the Baltics and the main air traffic hub in the region, we are aware of our important role in preventing it. The Airport has already cooperated with both the responsible state institutions and public organizations that help victims of this crime, an Airport training programme also includes the topic of human trafficking; however, such a complex issue, which affects both public authorities, the transport sector and the non-governmental sector, requires systematic cooperation,” says Laila Odiņa, Chairperson of the Board of Riga Airport.
Martin Gauss, Chairman of the Board of airBaltic: "Human trafficking is an unacceptable crime. We have already paid special attention to this issue, devoting time to the training of flight attendants. As the largest carrier in the region, we are confident that by working with the Airport and the authorities we will be even more effective in tackling the problem.”
The purpose of the memorandum is to promote the prevention of trafficking of human beings and to strengthen cooperation between aviation companies, state institutions and non-governmental organizations in identifying and referring victims for the provision of support, assistance and protection. Within the framework of the memorandum of cooperation, industry players, responsible state institutions and the non-governmental sector undertake to cooperate on a voluntary basis, outlining the boundaries, scope and basic principles of cooperation.
The memorandum was signed on Monday by Riga Airport, the national airline airBaltic, the Ministry of the Interior, the association “Patvērums “Drošā māja”” and the association “Centrs MARTA”, but the memorandum is open and other players in the industry such as airlines, aviation regulators and others are encouraged to join it.
Upon signing the memorandum, Dimitrijs Trofimovs, State Secretary of the Ministry of the Interior, emphasized: "Millions of vulnerable people around the world are being trafficked between continents and countries every year, many of them through airports. In support of the UN World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, in 2018 the Airport Council International (ACI) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced a joint commitment and work to help combat human trafficking, because while aviation promotes and provides opportunities for people to discover and explore the world, its global network is also being misused by traffickers to move people against their will for exploitation in other countries.
And it is extremely important that also in Latvia we can unite our efforts to jointly address this crime and human rights violations. By cooperating with state institutions, service providers, Riga Airport and airBaltic, we will improve the knowledge and skills of aviation workers to recognize human trafficking, its victims, actions to solve situations, and provide information dissemination activities both at the Airport premises, on airBaltic aircraft and on social media. The more people we can reach and address, the greater the public awareness about human trafficking, its risks, consequences and opportunities for help.”
As the Head of the association "Centrs MARTA" Iluta Lāce pointed out: “"Centrs MARTA” has been providing support to victims of human trafficking since 2002 and since 2015 it has been offering state-funded social rehabilitation services. We believe that inter-institutional cooperation is the basis for reducing and preventing human trafficking. For this reason we highly appreciate the initiative of Riga Airport in concluding the memorandum, as well as the responsiveness of all the organizations involved in resolving this issue. I am convinced that together we have laid a solid and stable foundation for mutual cooperation.”
Lawyer at the association ''Patvērums “Drošā māja”” Gita Miruškina: "Everyone has the right to be free and to fulfil their dreams. Only together we can successfully combat human trafficking."
19 October has been chosen as the date for signing of the memorandum, because European Anti-Trafficking Day is celebrated throughout the European Union a day before - on 18 October.
A video from the memorandum signing event is available here:
Riga Airport is a fast-growing Northern European air traffic hub. Riga Airport served more than 7.8 million passengers in 2019. The Cirium study recognized Riga Airport as the fourth most punctual airport in the world in 2019.