St. Thomas University School of Law & Human Trafficking
St. Thomas University School of Law through its LL.M./ J.S.D. Program in Intercultural Human Rights is the first academic institution in South Florida to shed light on the magnitude and scope of human trafficking. It is also one of pioneer institutions in the field of human trafficking nationwide, and the first law school to offer a doctrinal course on human trafficking law in its J.D. curriculum. Since 2004, the LL.M./ J.S.D. Program in Intercultural Human Rights has hosted numerous symposia, seminars and round tables locally and internationally. In 2005, under the leadership of Professor Roza Pati, a set of law and policy recommendations were formulated under the name of "The Miami Declaration of Principles on Human Trafficking," which has guided law and policy in various states nationally and internationally.
Message from Professor Roza Pati,
Founder & Director of the
Human Trafficking Academy
Welcome to the Human Trafficking Academy of the LL.M./J.S.D. Program in Intercultural Human Rights at St. Thomas University School of Law!
The Academy was founded through a grant of the Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, in 2010. Since 2012 the Human Trafficking Academy is sponsored by St. Thomas University School of Law's LL.M./J.S.D. Program in Intercultural Human Rights. It aims at conducting research, outreach and education in the field. In particular, it offers specialized training and 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.
In the words of Pope Francis, human trafficking constitutes a crime against humanity, and those who suffer from it are "the least amongst us." Rooted in Catholic Social Teaching, the human rights program at St. Thomas Law has long been a leader in advocacy and action efforts to put an end to human trafficking in our life time, through raising awareness of this scourge of humankind amongst our communities and training professionals of all disciplines, in line with the Holy Father's call for men and women of good will to renew our commitment in improving human condition.
Despite the good strides that the world community has made in the past decade and a half, we are way too far from eradicating modern-day slavery. With all due respect to skeptics, the fact of the matter is that slavery has never left us. Except for the fact that slavery is no longer institutionalized in any political and legal system and that modern slaves are no longer a legally registered investment, the types of exploitation, degradation and mistreatment encompassing any or all features attached to the right of ownership in situations of absolute control of one person over another, induced through force, fear, fraud and coercion are starkly similar to the old phenomenon of chattel slavery. Facts and figures indicate that there is no such a thing as a world free from modern slavery today—a $150 billion illicit industry, and in order to win over it we need to be warriors for human dignity. As Secretary of State John Kerry noted in his speech during the release of 2015 TIP Report, human trafficking "is a modern-day human rights challenge of enormous proportions," and "not only do we have a responsibility to bring every aspect of our institutions of our government together in order to push back and to educate and to make people aware of this, but it is a fight we absolutely have to win." This is the mission of our Academy and of our human rights program.
IIn aspiring to and contributing towards a world without slaves, the Human Trafficking Academy is cognizant of the complex challenges our society faces, but also of our better understanding of the phenomenon of human trafficking. There are a number of avenues for reaching the goals of rooting out trafficking and restore the dignity of its victims. One such avenue is reaching out, researching, teaching and training. And this is what we undertake to do: teach and train our students—lawyers to be, but also legal, educational, medical professionals and the civil society at large on how to prevent and identify human trafficking, protect and rehabilitate the victims and prosecute the perpetrators of this horrible crime. Preparing modern-day abolitionists is a responsibility that our human rights program takes seriously and utterly embraces.
We invite you to join us to trustingly work together to send human trafficking to where it belongs: the dustbin of history.
Meet Our Staff
Marina Rakopyan, LL.M.