Meeting Professionals Against Human Trafficking (MPAHT) marked the United Nations World Day Against Trafficking in Persons by becoming a signatory to The Code.

The Code, short for “The Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism” is an industry-driven initiative to provide awareness, tools and support to combat the sexual exploitation of children.

For many Canadians, human trafficking evokes images of distant countries and people smuggled across borders, but human trafficking is actively happening every day.

As conference and event planners, hotel sales and audiovisual professionals, the members of MPAHT recognize the important role they can play in drawing attention to this issue.

MPAHT’s signing of The Code, led by the volunteer organization’s founder Sandy Biback, underscores the group’s commitment to educating and advancing awareness of ongoing violence against children.

“MPAHT was formed in 2017 to work with … planners and venues to help understand exploitation and what we as meeting professionals can do to help stem the tide,” Biback said. “We have formed coalitions with other groups, have helped spread awareness and education to the world of conferences and events, and know that we are making a difference, with a much longer road in front of us.

“By signing The Code agreement, MPAHT is honoring our mission to work collaboratively to help stem the tide of human slavery,” she added in an official press release from the organization.

Member representatives of MPAHT, including the event sponsor Hilton Hotels, were joined by Nicole Merrick, president of Beyond Borders ECPAT Canada, the Canadian representative of ECPAT International who established The Code in 1996.

“The unfortunate reality is that human trafficking is often linked to travel and tourism,” Merrick said. “As the Canadian representative of The Code, Beyond Borders ECPAT Canada is incredibly pleased that Meeting Professionals Against Human Trafficking has chosen to become a signatory to The Code, and to join other industry leaders in implementing a Code of Conduct aimed at protecting children from sex tourism.

"This dedicated group of professionals, with members comprised of conference and event planners, hotel sales professionals and audio visual professionals, [MPAHT] is perfectly positioned to make a real and effective difference in the fight against child sexual exploitation," she added.

As a member of The Code, MPAHT’s mandate includes:

  • Educating meeting planners, venues and suppliers about human trafficking and sexual exploitation.
  • Providing tools and training on how to recognize the signs of human trafficking and how to appropriately handle these situations.
  • Encouraging the inclusion of a clause in contracts stating a zero tolerance policy of sexual exploitation of children.

[Featured Profile: Veteran Planner Sandy Biback Fights Human Trafficking]