July 12, 2017

Cortez Masto Advocates for Standardization in Training Programs to Combat Human Trafficking

Washington, D.C. – In today’s Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing to explore the role of transportation providers and supply chains in the global sex and labor trade, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) advocated for the adoption of uniform standards in training programs that support efforts to end human trafficking.

 Many travel-related industries, government agencies, and non-profits have developed training materials to educate their employees on how to identify and report incidents of human trafficking. However, the lack of a standardized model for anti-trafficking training programs limits coordination among stakeholders. In a conversation with witnesses from the Polaris Project, Truckers Against Trafficking, Florida Abolitionist, and the Issara Institute, Cortez Masto emphasized the need for victim-focused training that is specific to both the audience and the problem being addressed. Cortez Masto proposed the adoption of a uniform set of training standards in order to better serve victims and promote coordination among federal, state, and local officials.

“As Attorney General of Nevada for eight years, I worked closely with organizations like the Polaris Project and Truckers Against Trafficking. Your work was instrumental in helping my state address this issue, so thank you for that and for being here to have this conversation,” said Cortez Masto at the hearing.

“This is a space that I’ve worked in for a number of years. We still have work to be done. Training stakeholders to respond to incidents is absolutely necessary, but there are different types of training. I know from working with victims that not every victim of sex trafficking realizes they’re a victim. And then you need to be able to gain their trust.”

“The training we provide to a first responder versus the training we provide to somebody in the trucking association or in our airports—it’s going to be different. And there’s all this talk about funding and promoting training, but we don’t talk about what the training should be, what it should look like. And because of it, there are so many people that want to help, but I don’t know if we’re doing right by those victims and first responders.”

“So what I would like to see is to have some sort of national standardized training model. The federal government should be working with the states, local law enforcement, and nonprofits. They should be collaborating—and that’s why this idea of a standardized training model is so important,” she continued.

Combatting human trafficking was one of Cortez Masto’s top priorities as Attorney General of Nevada, and it remains one of her top priorities as a United States Senator. In January, she co-sponsored the Trafficking Survivors Relief Act, a bipartisan bill that would prevent victims of human trafficking from being punished for crimes they were forced to commit while they were enslaved. Cortez Masto is also a cosponsor of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) and the Abolish Human Trafficking Act, both of which have been approved in committee and are awaiting a vote on the Senate floor.