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, Ark of Freedom Alliance

Dr. Mohamed Mattar
Professor of Law and Director, 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, 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 Doctoral Program in 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

“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!”

“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.”

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

Prosecutors, Judges and Law Enforcement Officials from Brazil Visit with The John J. Brunetti Human Trafficking Academy

“Complex Crime: Policies and Techniques to Break Criminal Networks” was the topic of discussion between Professor Roza Pati, Director of The John J. Brunetti Human Trafficking Academy and a delegation from Brazil, comprised of prosecutors, federal judges, police officers, legislative consultants and counselors, on June 28, 2018. Their visit was part of a U.S. tour program aimed to learn about methods that the United States uses to combat organized crime in light of Brazil’s current rise in criminal violence in areas such as criminal gangs, human trafficking, and cyber-crime, due to a downfall in the economy and state security budgets.

The delegation visited the Human Trafficking Academy at the request of the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program to have a better understanding about the Academy’s work in combatting human trafficking in South Florida and beyond. The group was joined by St. Thomas Law’s J.S.D candidate of the Intercultural Human Rights Program Ms. Marina Rakopyan and J.D. students Yudilennis Caneda, Cristy N. Gerdts, Allison R. Rapetti, Michelle Landrian, and Aleksei Voiskovich, who were studying human rights law in Professor Pati’s Human Trafficking Law & Policy course. Students asked informed questions and voiced their opinion on the ways to prevent and combat human trafficking.

The delegates engaged in an interactive roundtable discussion on the human trafficking law and its implementation in the United States and in Brazil and the guests shared their concerns on the growing epidemic of trafficking in persons in Brazil.  During her remarks, Professor Pati commended the partnership between the public and private sectors as well as the civil society in combatting human trafficking in the United States and highlighted some of the ways the Academy confronts human trafficking through its three core dimensions—research, outreach, and education—in particular, the specialized trainings offered annually to professionals of various disciplines.

“It was such an enlightening experience to engage in dialogue and exchange views with legal professionals from Brazil and it is humbling to get to know about the difficulties and limitations that they face in combatting organized crimes such as human trafficking. Exploring avenues of cooperation with our colleagues across borders remains a priority of our Human Trafficking Academy,” said Professor Roza Pati.

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.

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.