Sabre on Monday hosted eight truly remarkable people from around the world recognized as Trafficking in Persons Heroes as part of the group’s 10-day U.S. visit. Dallas was among three cities the heroes visited including Washington, D.C., and Cincinnati.
Each year, the U.S. Department of State honors individuals around the world who have devoted their lives to the fight against human trafficking. These individuals are Non Governmental Organization (NGO) workers, lawmakers, police officers, and concerned citizens who are committed to ending modern slavery. They are recognized for their tireless efforts—despite resistance, opposition, and threats to their lives—to protect victims, punish offenders, and raise awareness of ongoing criminal practices in their countries and abroad.
The heroes were honored in the nation’s capitol last week by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who also released the 2013 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report.
You can watch the event honoring the TIP Heroes last week in Washington, D.C., here).
During their brief visit to Sabre headquarters in Southlake, Texas, TIP Heroes met with Sabre executives from across the company and shared their personal stories of how they are successfully battling human trafficking.
Sabre leaders said they were honored to host the real heroes in the fight against human trafficking and were eager to learn more from them about what more Sabre can do. “Our goal today is threefold: to be inspired by these heroes, to learn from them and to discuss the actions we can all take to make a difference,” said Chris Kroeger, senior vice president, Sabre Travel Network.
As one hero said Monday, “I thought I was the only one working on human trafficking,” – not an uncommon feeling for a crime that often gets swept under the rug. Now, as a result of the U.S. State Department’s recognition and their interaction with one another, they look forward to working collaboratively with others around the world to have an even greater impact in the fight against human trafficking.
One of the heroes, Officer Juan Victoriano Ruiz, from Nicaragua, was responsible for the apprehension of one of the people on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list, a notorious child pornography suspect who has been at large for years.
And another, Detective Katrin Gluic, from Croatia, who, among the many victims she’s helped in her role in the organized crime police, rescued an American citizen last year. This was a classic case of a young woman who thought that she had an opportunity for a good job abroad, but then found herself in the clutches of the human traffickers.
Last fall Sabre created Passport to Freedom, a global travel industry initiative to end human trafficking. Sabre was the first global travel technology company to sign the tourism Code of Conduct (The Code), an international tourism-focused initiative against human trafficking co-funded by the Swiss Government (SECO) and other private sector investments, and supported by End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT) International, with UNICEF and the World Tourism Organization acting as advisory partners.
Sabre Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Sam Gilliland has said Sabre’s presence among all segments of the travel sector from travel agents and airlines to tour services and travelers, and everything in between, puts Sabre in a unique position to act as a driving force in raising awareness for this cause.
TIP Heroes applauded Sabre’s efforts to train our employees and raise awareness about the issue with our customers and others in the travel industry. Javier Antonio Morazán, a TIP Hero and the public prosecutor from Nicaragua, was very impressed that a business in the private sector cares about issues like this and not just about making money.
They are all very grateful the U.S. State Department for the work they’re doing to raise awareness and fight human trafficking. Several said that the TIP Report that State Department publishes each year has made a significant difference in helping to get the attention of governments around the world about the issue and to begin taking action. Without that, several of the TIP Heroes said they would not be able to do what they’re doing.
Many of the TIP Heroes visiting on Monday said that repatriation of survivors back to their home countries was an area where the travel industry could assist. Sabre pledged to work with its partners in the industry – with airlines, hotels, agencies and others – as well as with U.S. government partners to help raise awareness.