Seattle Port Leaders Pledge Against Human Trafficking

Port of Seattle Commission President Sam Cho (center) and other officials at the signing of the port’s Port Allies Against Human Trafficking (PAAHT) pledge in January. Photo: Port of Seattle.

The Port of Seattle in January launched its Port Allies Against Human Trafficking (PAAHT) pledge. During January’s National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, the port called on its partners and tenants to raise awareness of the signs and behaviors of human trafficking with their employees.

At its Jan. 10 meeting, the Port of Seattle Commission approved a proclamation recognizing January as National Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

The port said that the pledge represents the next step in the port’s efforts as a regional leader in anti-human trafficking work—including awareness messaging and trainings—that began in 2018 with Commission passage of the port’s Comprehensive Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy.

The most recent statistics from the National Human Trafficking Hotline show that 955 reports were received in Washington state in 2021. Of those reports, 404 were from victims or survivors of human trafficking. Additionally, 233 cases involving 337 victims of trafficking were identified in the state.

The hotline can be used to report suspicions and potential human trafficking issues, and it can provide help and resources, like medical care, financial assistance, housing assistance, or law enforcement assistance.

“Increasing awareness of human trafficking saves lives. This pledge will increase awareness of the signs of trafficking and how to report it, which is the best way to prevent and stop trafficking through Port of Seattle facilities,” Port of Seattle Commission President Sam Cho said.

“Education and awareness are key to recognizing human trafficking at our gateway,” Port Commissioner Toshiko Hasegawa commented. “Active participation from pledge members will help to interrupt this monstrous underground economy.”   

Organizations that sign onto the pledge are joining the port in combatting human trafficking by:

Endorsing and amplifying port-led public education campaigns on human trafficking at and around all port facilities.

Promoting participation in awareness training opportunities to build staff knowledge to recognize typical trafficking signs and behaviors.

Educating and urging staff and bystanders about how to report occurrences of such signs and behaviors via the National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-373-7888 or texting 233-733) or via 911.

To support PAAHT members, the port is making anti-human trafficking trainings available in multiple, accessible formats to any worker at port facilities, as well as making print and digital educational materials available in partnership with community-based organizations and survivors of trafficking.

Pledge members also have access to the first proprietary anti-human trafficking training developed by a port authority, which the Port of Seattle created in partnership with Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking (BEST).

“Human traffickers often move victims through airports and seaports,” BEST CEO and Executive Director Mar Brettmann explained. “This next step by the Port of Seattle will provide valuable training and materials to help even more employees learn what they can do to help stop labor and sex trafficking in Washington. When more employees learn to recognize the signs of human trafficking, they can assist more people to be able to find freedom and hope.” 

In addition to the trainings, the Port of Seattle posted 20 signs at Port of Seattle parks and 10 signs at Fisherman’s Terminal on how to report suspected trafficking. The signage includes language in eight languages beyond English, including Spanish, Tagalog, Korean, Chinese, Somali, Russian, Ukrainian and Vietnamese.