Message from Professor Roza Pati
Founder & Director
Welcome to The John J. Brunetti 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 Michael R. Pompeo stated in his opening letter of the 2018 TIP Report, human trafficking “deprives millions worldwide of their dignity and freedom” and it “is not merely a moral issue or one that affects the interests of the American people; it is also an issue that threatens international peace and security. By engaging and training law enforcement, religious leaders, teachers, tribal elders, business executives, and communities, we become more vigilant and learn to identify and address vulnerabilities swiftly.” This is the mission of our Academy and of our human rights program.
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 join us to trustingly work together to send human trafficking to where it belongs: the dustbin of history.