Friday, August 3, 2018

Domestic Human Trafficking Training: Tackling Modern-Slavery in the U.S.

This summer, The John J. Brunetti Human Trafficking Academy hosted its week-long professional development training from July 23rd to July 27th, 2018. The primary focus was addressing the issue of human trafficking within the United States.

The Academy, directed by St. Thomas Law professor Dr. Roza Pati, welcomed 54 participants from around the country. These participants represented various professional groups including social service providers, child protective investigators, psychologists, government representatives, attorneys, law enforcement, teachers, academics, human rights advocates, entrepreneurs, students, and faith-based organizations. The Academy was especially pleased to welcome several recipients of the 2018 Survivor Scholarship, generously funded by the Thomas E. Lemons Foundation.



Rev. Msgr. Franklyn Casale, former President of St. Thomas University, paid tribute to Mr. John J. Brunetti for his support to St. Thomas University over the years and his most recent contribution to the Human Trafficking Academy, which now bears his name.

In her opening remarks, St. Thomas Law’s Acting Dean Tamara Lawson, noted that the Academy is one of the most important events held at St. Thomas Law. "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere and I believe that is why you all are here today, to address injustice…especially for those who cannot speak up for themselves," she stated.

The Academy consisted of 15 training courses taught by top-experts in the field, drawing from their own professional and personal experiences. The week of concentrated courses covered a range of topics arranged thematically by day.

Day 1 covered sex trafficking with courses on child sex trafficking, a profile of sex traffickers, and a profile of the buyers of sex;

Day 2 turned greater focus to the survivors of trafficking, with sessions about populations facing a higher risk of exposure to trafficking, a powerful course from a trafficking survivor’s perspective on the debate between the language of ‘Victim’ or ‘Survivor’, as well as a trauma-informed screening and interviewing course;

Day 3 was focused entirely on labor trafficking, with courses about domestic servitude, trafficking in the agricultural sector, and trafficking in the hospitality industry;

Day 4 shed light on the different contributors to the fight against trafficking and the importance of forming partnerships, including courses on the Florida Safe Harbor Act, government & NGO partnerships, and the response of Miami’s G.R.A.C.E. Court to child trafficking cases;

Finally, Day 5 focused on the causes and effects of vicarious trauma, featuring a course about coping with trauma exposure, a second session about understanding the ethical implications of dealing with vicarious trauma and burnout, and closing with course about building self-care and happiness.

The esteemed course instructors hailed from across the world and various disciplines:

Nathan Earl
Founder and Executive Director of Ark of Freedom Alliance

Dr. Mohamed Mattar
Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Law Clinic at Qatar University College of Law

Bill Wolf
Retired Detective, Fairfax County Police Department
Executive Director & Trainer, Just Ask Prevention Project

Tessa Juste, J.D., LL.M.
Graduate Fellow, Human Trafficking Academy

Marina Rakopyan, LL.M.
Research Assistant, Human Trafficking Academy
J.S.D. candidate, St. Thomas University School of Law


Savannah Parvu
Survivor Leader and Speaker

Brenda Mezick, Esq.
Chief, Human Trafficking Unit, Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office

Victor Williams
Retired Special Agent, Department of Homeland Security

Barbara Martinez, Esq.
Chief, Special Prosecutions Section
Human Trafficking and Project Safe Childhood Coordinator, U.S. Attorney’s Office


Todd Forester
President, i-5 Freedom Network

Brianna O’Steen
Ph.D. Student & Instructor, Oregon State University

Ana Vallejo, Esq.
Co-Director of VIDA Legal Assistance, Inc.

The Honorable Maria Sampedro-Iglesia
Associate Administrative Judge, Unified Children’s Court & Human Trafficking Division, G.R.A.C.E. Court

Milagros Santiago-Maldonado
Clinical Director, Trauma Resolution Center

Dr. Ana Christina Nuñez
Researcher, Americas Division, Human Rights Watch

Dr. Jodi Grace
Associate Professor of Psychology, St. Thomas University


The Academy also had the privilege of welcoming a special luncheon guest speaker, Maria Kaldani, who serves as the Scientific Supervisor at The HOME Project in Athens, Greece. Ms. Kaldani shared with participants the powerful work that her organization is doing to meet the needs of child refugees who have migrated to Greece. The HOME Project provides long-term housing, immigration assistance, psychological support, educational skills, and whatever else the children may need to adjust to the circumstances with which they are faced. In her presentation, Ms. Kaldani outlined the overlap between issues of trafficking and the migrant crisis in Europe, and shared how it has affected some of the children who have come to be cared for by The Home Project. Father Paul VI Karenga, current J.S.D. candidate of the Intercultural Human Rights Program concluded the Academy with a closing prayer.

This intensive week of training was organized to empower anti-trafficking professionals and advocates with the tools and knowledge to work as effectively and compassionately as possible against the scourge of human trafficking. The feedback of participants indicates that the 2018 Human Trafficking Academy succeeded in this aim.

“An incredible week full of education, inspiration, fantastic speakers and building a network of connections across the community. I’m so thankful I was able to attend.”


- Lucas Samuel Hall, Ark of Freedom Alliance


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“As a survivor, I’m sure one can imagine that this course is a lot for me all at once. I would like to thank the Academy for providing a trauma-informed education. I felt that his atmosphere and approach were sensitive and understanding. What a great variety of instructors and attendees! Even as someone who has experienced some of these crimes firsthand, I learned new things and was exposed to new ideas and information. Thank you!”


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“I believe this academy opened my eyes to this level of crime that damages victims more often than not. It has changed my thinking and encouraged me to get involved in the solutions.”


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“Outstanding program. Thank you for all of the content and community engagement.”

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Exposing the Dark World of Human Trafficking at the Annual District 6990 Rotary Training Assembly

Left to Right: Sara Monaghan, a survivor of labor trafficking, Beatriz Susana Uitts, Research Assistant at Human Trafficking Academy, 
and Ret. Chief Therese Homer, Chair, Human Trafficking Initiative at Rotary International District 6990

On Saturday, April 28th, Mrs. Beatriz Susana Uitts, Research Assistant for the Human Trafficking Academy, participated as a guest panelist in the annual District 6990 Rotary Training Assembly organized by the Rotary International District 6990. The event took place at the Margaritaville Beach Resort in Hollywood, Florida, and it brought together leaders and members of Rotary from Southeast Florida, The Florida Keys, and Grand Bahama Island, to address current happenings in Rotary and their district as well as other important topics relevant to district members.

As part of their human trafficking initiative, Rotary International District 6990, aimed one of its panel discussions to raise awareness and address issues related to the crime of trafficking in persons. During the session titled, “The Scourge of Human Trafficking,” Mrs. Uitts discussed trafficking in human beings as an international, federal, and local issue that affects society as a whole. Her talk also highlighted how cyber criminals operate online to facilitate this heinous crime. In addition, Mrs. Uitts led a labor trafficking survivor interview, which demonstrated the effects of the victimization and the need to protect and assist trafficking victims and survivors.

The Human Trafficking Academy is committed to tackling the issue of trafficking in persons through research, outreach, and education as well as collaborate with local organizations in its effort to eradicate this human rights violation.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Human Trafficking Academy Hosts Representative Ross Spano to Commemorate 'National Crime Victims’ Rights Week'

On April 11th, in honor of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, the Human Trafficking Academy was honored to host Florida State Representative Ross Spano in a talk attended by law students, faculty, staff, and community members. Professor Roza Pati, Director of the Human Trafficking Academy, welcomed Representative Ross Spano to St. Thomas Law and highlighted his tremendous work in the State of Florida to confront the problem of trafficking in human beings, to find solutions and to eradicate this scourge.

Representative Spano, who is also currently a candidate for Florida Attorney General, opened up about why it is that he was called to advocate on behalf of victims of human trafficking, and offered insights into the laudable legislative efforts that he has championed in the pursuit of this aim.

Representative Spano began the talk by emphasizing the need to stand up to bullies, which he learned from his own childhood experiences. “There are all sorts of bullies in life,” he said, “and one of those bullies takes the form of a human trafficker.” He shared the experience of pushing for the passage of numerous bills to protect victims of sex trafficking. These legislative measures covered a range of issues including, the ability for victims of sex trafficking to petition for any prostitution convictions in their record to be vacated or expunged, an increase on the criminal penalty for pimps and for those who solicit the services of sex trafficked persons, the ability for prosecutors to pursue RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) charges against traffickers, and protecting the locations of safe-houses for trafficking victims from public disclosure.

Representative Spano’s passionate commitment to eliminating human trafficking in Florida was palpable and was mirrored by the audience. The attendees were engaged throughout, asking many thought-provoking questions during the latter half of the session.

Some students who were in attendance shared their thoughts about the talk afterwards. Kimberly Colón, an LL.M. student, said that “Representative Ross Spano was very insightful on the different laws regarding human trafficking in the State of Florida.” Diego Sánchez, a 2L, stated that, “It was great to hear from someone who has been at the legislative forefront of tackling this very important issue in our State.” Added Nadia El Nur, another student from the LL.M. program, “I really enjoyed the lecture organized by the Human Trafficking Academy. The discussion held afterward was inspiring and very informative.”

Representative Spano has pledged to continue to “fight for victims of human trafficking until we completely eradicate this scourge from Florida.” There can be no doubt that his work, including the talk he gave on the 11th, has inspired others to take up the fight as well.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Fostering Partnerships Between Academia and the Public Sector

Professor Pati presenting at the
U.S. Department of Justice event in Miami, FL
Professor Roza Pati, Director of the Human Trafficking Academy, presented at the U.S. Southern Command’s Symposium on Combatting Human Trafficking by the Military, convened on March 6-7, 2018. In addition to the U.S. Southern Command, the symposium brought together representatives from the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, civil society as well as military command officials and other government representatives from the partner nations in Central and Latin America and the Caribbean. Professor Pati presented on "An Analysis of Situations, Participants, Perspectives & Outcomes in Creating an Effective Combatting Trafficking in Persons Curriculum."

Early this year, on January 4, 2018, Professor Roza Pati participated in a roundtable discussion at a U.S. Department of Justice event with the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Human Trafficking and the Model of the South Florida Task Force, in Miami. In her remarks, Professor Pati highlighted the educational, outreach and research work done by St. Thomas Law’s Human Trafficking Academy as the pioneer institution in South Florida combatting human trafficking, and the importance of the partnership of the public sector with academia and civil society. St. Thomas Law is a charter member of the South Florida Task Force Against Human Trafficking and has earned high praise and standing in the community through its contribution towards eradicating modern slavery.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Human Trafficking Academy Commemorates International Day of Prayer


On February 8th, the Human Trafficking Academy and Campus Ministry joined millions of people of the global faith community on a day of prayer for the victims of human trafficking. In 2015, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (PCJP) at the Vatican designated this day as an annual day of prayer and awareness against human trafficking. The Human Trafficking Academy, directed by Professor Roza Pati, member of the PCJP, has joined this initiative in line with its social justice mission of educating, researching and raising awareness about the worldwide phenomenon of modern slavery and leave no stone unturned in order to eradicate this affront to human rights and human dignity.

The Human Trafficking Academy commemorated this day with a special mass and prayer service celebrated by Rev. Msgr. Franklyn Casale, president of St. Thomas University, followed by a discussion led by Ms. Beatriz Susana Uitts and Father Paul VI Karenga, current J.S.D. candidates of the Intercultural Human Rights Program at St. Thomas Law. Ms. Uitts discussed “Human Trafficking in Cyberspace” and explained how criminals are using the internet to target, entice, groom, and solicit victims for trafficking purposes. Father Paul VI Karenga presented “Trends of Human Trafficking in West Africa” and highlighted some of the key challenges in addressing human trafficking in Africa.

St. Thomas community was joined at this service by a group of high school students from the Chaminade-Madonna College Preparatory in Hollywood, whose presence and desire to learn more about preventing recruitment into human trafficking amongst youth through internet was a most welcome treat. 

February 8 is the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita, the patron saint of human trafficking victims, a Sudanese woman kidnapped as a child and sold into slavery. Upon escaping to freedom, she dedicated her life to sharing her testament of deliverance from slavery and comforting the poor and suffering. 

Learn more about Human Trafficking Academy at www.humantraffickingacademy.org.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Human Trafficking Academy Hosts 7th Annual SAO Human Trafficking Forum



Dr. Roza Pati, Director of the Human Trafficking Academy, President Msgr. Franklyn Casale, 
State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle and Dean Alfredo Garcia

On January 25, St. Thomas Law’s Human Trafficking Academy in partnership with the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office hosted the 7th Annual SAO Human Trafficking Forum. This year’s theme was “Broadening the Scope: Sexual Orientation, Gender Roles, and Developing the Appropriate Response.” Speakers included Meredith Dank, Ph.D., Research Professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City and Aspen Hawke, Program Manager for Chrysalis Health in Fort Lauderdale.

In her opening remarks, State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle, highlighted the extraordinary work of the prosecuting team of SAO and also praised St. Thomas University and its Human Trafficking Academy for being the leading educational institution in South Florida to address the scourge of human trafficking.



State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle addressing forum attendees

“You really have been the leaders in this way before the rest of us,” she expressed to President Msgr. Franklyn Casale, Dean Alfredo Garcia and Dr. Roza Pati.

President Msgr. Casale, who has been on the forefront of the issue, shared his enthusiasm on the recent partnership between St. Thomas Law’s Human Trafficking Academy and the State Attorney’s Office, and reiterated that “collaboration is the name of the game” in the fight against human trafficking.

The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Annual Human Trafficking Forum gathers stakeholders and community partners to address human trafficking in Miami-Dade County and South Florida. St. Thomas Law’s Human Trafficking Academy is committed to continue working and collaborating with local leaders to develop cohesive and coherent anti-trafficking strategies.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Empowering Local Girl Scouts Troops to be Tomorrow’s Abolitionists

Girls Scouts troops attend human trafficking workshop presented by the Human Trafficking Academy

The Human Trafficking Academy recently held a two-hour workshop for local Girl Scouts troops at the Mary Collins Community Center in Miami Lakes, Florida. Beatriz Susana Uitts, Research Assistant, and Karla Garcia, Executive Assistant, spoke to the group about one of the most prevalent forms of modern-day slavery and one that greatly affects our youth, commercial sexual exploitation. 

During the workshop, the Girls Scouts read case scenarios of trafficked victims and learned to identify key elements of human trafficking such as recruiting techniques, traffickers’ profiles, and trauma bonding.

The workshop intended to equip and empower the Girl Scouts with knowledge and awareness about this heinous crime as well as ways they can get involved in the fight against modern-day slavery.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Combatting the Scourge of Modern Slavery: Human Trafficking Academy Receives $2.5 Million Gift

St. Thomas Law and its highly-acclaimed Human Trafficking Academy just became the beneficiary of a $2.5 million gift, generously donated by Mr. John Brunetti, Chairman of the Hialeah Park Racing & Casino.


Mr. John Brunetti (center) presenting $2.5 million check to St. Thomas Law’s 
Human Trafficking Academy

Professor Pati, who has been working on the issue of human trafficking since the early 1990s described the multi-million dollar gift is a blessing that will help the academy accomplish countless desired goals, enhance the Academy’s presence throughout the State, and nurture its agility and profoundness.

"The ultimate beneficiary will be communities aspiring to be free of slave labor, products and services [and] survivors, whose lives we will help put back together," stated Professor Pati. "Our work will assist human trafficking victims regain and own back their lives."


The Academy's reach will simultaneously empower Florida’s human resources, whose mission is to condemn and bring to justice those who appropriate people’s legal personality, their free will, labor and sweat. 

"We are proud and humbled to be the recipient of this generous gift," stated Dean Alfredo Garcia. "Our unstinting efforts, through the work of Professor Pati and our faculty, staff, and alumni, to eradicate the scourge of human trafficking will be enhanced."

The Academy will also continue its cooperation with federal agencies that combat human trafficking, and with the State Attorneys’ offices, the private sector and civil society in order to expand synergies and take advantage of available resources to better understand the physiognomy and trends of human trafficking as well as the needs of national and foreign victims.

Founded and directed by Professor Roza Pati, the Human Trafficking Academy was established in 2010 with the support of a grant by the Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance. A pioneer of its kind, the Academy is home to a variety of multi-disciplinary anti-trafficking initiatives that include conferences, symposia, trainings, presentations, workshops, research, and publications. Its impact crosses national borders.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Human Trafficking Academy Raises Awareness of Child Sexual Exploitation at Local High School

Cushman High School Students and Principal Caroline Lewis with 
Academy representatives Beatriz Susana Uitts and Karla Garcia

Human Trafficking Academy representatives Beatriz Susana Uitts, Research Assistant, and Karla Garcia, Executive Assistant of the Academy, visited a group of 9th and 10th-grade students at Cushman High School to talk about the issue of human trafficking on Tuesday, October 24th. The topic under discussion was the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC). It is estimated that between 100,000-300,000 youth are victims of CSEC each year in the United States.



The goal of the presentation was to inform and educate students about human trafficking. Students learned about the risk factors that make minors potential victims of CSEC as well as the methods of control and tactics used by traffickers.

The Academy was invited to present on the topic as part of the high school’s Society and Me program, which encourages students to select and research a social issue that is prevalent both locally and globally and to think about what they can do to create change in their local communities.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Human Trafficking Academy: An Educational Pioneer in the Fight Against Modern Day Slavery

The Human Trafficking Academy hosted its one-week training for the second time this year, on July 31 – August 4, 2017. The Academy, under the leadership of its director, Dr. Roza Pati, Professor of Law and Executive Director of the LL.M./J.S.D. Program in Intercultural Human Rights, brought together 62 participants from all over Florida, the United States and also from Thailand. They represented a multi-disciplinary group of various professional backgrounds including attorneys, law enforcement and border protection, social service providers, child protective investigators, academics, advocates, students and faith-based organizations.


Barbara Martinez, Chief of the Special Prosecutions Section, U.S. DOJ, Miami U.S. Attorney's Office, 
Benjamin Widlanski, Assistant United States Attorney, and HSI-ICE Special Agent Claudia Velez 
discussing the Federal Prosecution of Human Trafficking Cases 

This summer’s Academy offered five days of intensive education on: Defining, Understanding & Identifying Human Trafficking; Victims’ Needs & Navigation through Services; Federal Prosecution of Human Trafficking; Addressing Human Trafficking through State Law; Social Responsibility & Community Involvement; Survivor-Centered Services & Advocacy; Technology & Human Trafficking; and the Media & Human Trafficking.


Bretton Engle, Ph.D., Assistant Clinical Professor at FIU College of Medicine, interacts 
with Academy participants who role-play motivational interviewing
The week-long training was designed to empower participants with the theoretical perspective and legal framework of human trafficking as well as with practical skills and tools that are essential in addressing and preventing this heinous crime. Each session was taught by a distinguished team of instructors including: Greg Bristol, former FBI Special Agent; Joseph Martinez, former NCIS Special Agent; Barbara Martinez, Chief, Special Prosecutions Section, U.S. DOJ, Miami U.S. Attorney's Office; Benjamin Widlanski, Assistant United States Attorney, U.S. DOJ, Miami U.S. Attorney's Office; Ana Isabel Vallejo & Maria Jose Fletcher, Co-Directors & Attorneys, VIDA Legal Assistance; Brenda Mezick, Chief, Human Trafficking Unit, Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office; Sean Sellers, Director of Strategic Partnerships, National Economic & Social Rights Initiative; Bretton Engle, Assistant Clinical Professor, FIU College of Medicine; Janet Basilan, Survivor & Vice-Chairperson, GABRIELA USA; Roy Balleste, Professor of Law, St. Thomas University School of Law; and Beatriz Susana Uitts, J.S.D. Candidate, St. Thomas University School of Law.


Professor Roza Pati, Director of the Human Trafficking Academy, 
and Janet Basilan, a survivor of human trafficking and Vice Chairperson 
of GABRIELA USA
In welcoming participants at the opening session, Dr. Pati promised that the Human Trafficking Academy would be an extraordinary educational and training experience and that participants would leave empowered with the necessary knowledge and skills to combat the abhorrent scourge against human dignity.

The Academy featured guest speaker, Janet Basilan, a survivor of human trafficking and Vice Chairperson of GABRIELA USA, a Philippine-based organization in the United States seeking justice for trafficked persons. Ms. Basilan was one of the many Philippine teachers who were lured to the U.S., with false promises of well-paid teaching positions. Later she learned that everything was a scam. She was a victim of deception, debt-bondage and coercion. Her story was eye opening to many of the attendees who “never thought things like this happen in the U.S.” Ms. Basilan is a survivor-advocate determined to combat human trafficking in her home country and here in the United States.

Throughout the week, the participants were greeted and warmly welcomed by the most senior university officials, Monsignor Casale, President of St. Thomas University, Dr. Irma Becerra, Provost and Chief Academic Officer, and Professor Alfredo Garcia, Dean of the Law School. They all appreciated the contribution rendered by participants against human trafficking and their dedication to supporting victims in every institution and organization they hail from.



Msgr. Franklyn Casale, President of St. Thomas University, Dr. Irma Becerra, Provost and Chief Academic Officer,and Professor Alfredo Garcia, Dean of the Law School—welcoming and greeting participants

The Academy concluded with a special screening of “Trapped,” a short documentary film produced by Emmy Award-winning investigative journalist, Michele Gillen.


Participant feedback was overwhelmingly positive and met Dr. Pati’s promise to them:

“This most recent academy was my second to attend and found both to be rewarding, challenging, and enriching. I was rewarded with knowledge through experience, challenged with theory and practical application, and enriched with an enhanced ability to better impact positively the horrific crime and human condition of human trafficking. In addition to the instructional environment, the physical space was well appointed for learning. Thank you, Dr. Pati, for the effort and the hard work of your staff.”

Cpl. Alan Wilkett
Pasco Sheriff's Office

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“The multi-disciplinary approach of the Human Trafficking Academy was excellent. The content of the presentations and materials were extremely informative, easy to comprehend and well organized. The professional and dedicated cadre of instructors represented academia, civilian attorneys, state and federal prosecutors, NGOs, media, volunteers and survivors. The real examples, scenarios and role play exercises definitely allowed for the students of the academy to apply knowledge learned during lectures. Finally, Dr. Pati, Karla and volunteers made everyone feel at home and comfortable during the training week.”



Benjamin Botero, Assistant Professor
Criminal Justice, Broward College

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“Very informative, value-based, practical, to [the] point, resourceful in real time, impressive instructor selection, well put together by staff, [and] well needed.”

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“This is an invaluable place to learn as well as collaborate…Wonderful course and relevant to all levels of experience and understanding of subject matter. Thank you! Well done!”

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“The materials presented were diverse including information germane to investigations by law enforcement, NGO’s, health care, and community-based groups.”


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“The training was well organized, well timed and I learned a lot. Definitely will be useful in my field of work. Thank you Prof. Pati for your hard work.”



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“Excellent logistic! Very good room environment—well organized!”


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“Thank you for your commitment and passion. Good luck and God bless all of you.”


St. Thomas Law's bi-annual Human Trafficking Academy is designed to conduct research, outreach and education in the field of human trafficking. In particular, it offers specialized training and technical assistance to law enforcement, lawyers, healthcare providers, teachers, students, researchers, religious institutions and the community at large on issues related to the crime of trafficking in persons. It looks at trafficking in persons as a gross violation of human rights and as an affront to the dignity of the human being.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Human Trafficking Academy - Continuing to Make a World of Difference

The Human Trafficking Academy recently concluded its week-long anti-trafficking training. The Academy, directed by law professor Dr. Roza Pati, welcomed fifty national and international participants; some hailing from as far away as the United Kingdom. They represented various professional groups including attorneys, public defenders/prosecutors, law enforcement, social service providers, students, and faith-based organizations.

Through its multidisciplinary and immersion approach, the Human Trafficking Academy - the only one of its kind - brings together these professionals of various disciplines, training them to work together and complement each other’s efforts in identifying and protecting human trafficking victims. The training highlights the investigation and prosecution of perpetrators, strengthening cooperation amongst anti-trafficking institutions and increasing awareness in order to prevent and combat human trafficking.

During the week, 21 courses were taught by top-level experts and professionals. These courses were designed to empower participants with knowledge and skills to actively and effectively engage in anti-trafficking work.


Center front: Kyla (a survivor of human trafficking), Dr. Roza Pati (right) and Michele Gillen (left),
Participants of the Human Trafficking Academy 2017


Benjamin Widlanski, Assistant United States Attorney, Southern District of Florida, 
discussing, "Federal Prosecution of Sex Trafficking Cases"
During the week, the Academy hosted the renowned South Florida television anchor and investigative reporter, Michele Gillen. She discussed the role of the media in combating human trafficking and shared the story of Kyla, a survivor of human trafficking, featured in her short documentary report titled “Trapped.”
Human trafficking survivor Barbara Amaya, who survived domestic sex trafficking as a minor, led a training session titled “Dismantling the Cult of Human Trafficking: A Survivor’s Perspective, in which she shared her transformational story with the attendees, discussed the similarities between domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST) and cult recruitment, and ways to address and break the existing trauma bond experienced by DMST victims. At the age of 12, Ms. Amaya was forced into sex trafficking in Washington, DC and later on the streets of New York City, for over 10 years.


Attendee Feedback:

“The course was fabulous—the curriculum well thought out. The speakers were well prepared and relevant. I am disappointed it came to an end so quickly. Dr. Pati and her staff were very welcoming, hospitable and genuine.”


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“This program was AMAZING. We learned so much. The topics were great and we really enjoyed [them] and had our eyes opened to many things we were unaware of.”


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“I would be interested in additional training offered by the Academy. This academy was excellent! I think additional levels of the academy would be a great way for those within different fields to come together again, and learn from each other.”


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“Thank you for putting together this training on human trafficking. It was superbly executed and very educational. I appreciated the breadth of instruction on legal efforts, law enforcement actions and social services that target human trafficking. Thank you for bringing in such distinguished lecturers, and some exceptional public speakers such as Regina Bernadin, Michelle Gillen, Maria Jose Fletcher, Benjamin Widlanski, Brenda Mezick, Barbara Amaya, and Sean Sellers. I really enjoyed the entire week and appreciated the opportunity to network with professionals from across the country. Thank you, Professor Pati, for your tireless dedication to fighting human trafficking. It is truly inspiring!”


For more information and to join our efforts, please visit www.humantraffickingacademy.org or contact us at humantrafficking@stu.edu.