Mission Statement

The Human Trafficking Academy aims at providing effective tools to increase awareness about human trafficking, to identify and protect trafficked persons, and to develop strategies to prevent and effectively combat this crime through a multidisciplinary approach.

Meet Our Team

Message from the Director

Professor Roza Pati

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!

Sponsored by a grant of the Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Human Trafficking Academy 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 John Paul II, human trafficking “constitutes a shocking offense against human dignity and a grave violation of fundamental human rights.” 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.

It suffices to look at two 2012 studies and reports on human trafficking—one from the ILO, the other from the U.S. State Department—to conclude that despite the good strides that the world community has made in the past decade or so, 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, and our country’s commitment to freedom warrants “ a consideration of what abolition means in the face of modern-day slavery,” to quote former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In 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 make use of the various resources and features of our website, and urge you to check frequently for new programs and new resources that we promise to offer. We hope that this site will give you a glimpse of the work we do and will entice you to join us to trustingly work together to send human trafficking to where it belongs: the dustbin of history.