Summer Academy Assesses the State of Labor Trafficking on TVPA’s 20th Anniversary

By August 15, 2020Featured, News

On the 20th Anniversary of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, The John J. Brunetti Human Trafficking Academy offered a critical assessment of the state of labor trafficking domestically and abroad.  Despite tremendous progress against human trafficking, there is presently an estimated 24.9 million people trapped in forced labor in industries including agriculture, construction, domestic work, and manufacturing around the world.  Whether proliferated by disreputable supply chains, propelled by vulnerability in migrations, condoned by culture, emboldened by unenforced laws or even in some cases sanctioned by governments, this year’s Summer Academy examined how to eradicate this modern slavery of epic proportions through a victim-centered approach.

The Summer Academy was offered in an online format due to COVID-19 and featured 15 cutting-edge courses taught by leading experts in the field nationwide.

Our work in the field of combatting human trafficking is a natural extension of our commitment to teaching, service, and ethical leadership firmly grounded on the Catholic social teachings. Whether at the recruitment, transit, or at the exploitation site, concerted efforts are needed to address the root causes of trafficking, mainly vulnerability based on inequality and the demand side of trafficking,” said David A. Armstrong, J.D., President of St. Thomas University, in his address to the participants. Academics, attorneys, government officials, service providers, case managers, healthcare workers, investigators, students, and others from faith-based, public, and private sectors dedicated themselves to the rigorous curriculum and engaged in a rich dialogue with the course instructors and each other in the discussion forums. The diverse group of participants hailing from over 10 states and four continents was welcomed by the International Council on Human Trafficking Chairman, and President Emeritus of St. Thomas University, Rev. Msgr. Franklyn M. Casale, and by Professor Tamara F. Lawson, Dean of St. Thomas University School of Law.

What makes our annual Academy so effective is the fact that in the Catholic intellectual tradition of higher education we deliver the highest value in education through a rock-solid array of front-line courses taught by remarkable experts of international acclaim. We are extremely honored to host so many trailblazers in this year’s Academy who fully and critically dissect the status of affairs in labor trafficking and address the values of good law and policy,” said Professor Dr. Roza Pati, Founder and Director of the Academy, in her opening remarks on A Human Rights Approach to Labor Trafficking.

This year’s expert instructors included one of the most influential legal scholars alive: Professor Dr. Catharine A. MacKinnon of Harvard Law School.  Prof. MacKinnon is among the most widely-cited legal scholars in the English language and over time the most widely-cited woman.  She is a forerunner on issues of equality “predicated on eliminating dominance and subordination … MacKinnon [is] an influential legal theorist, helping to transform legal education by calling attention to issues affecting women and transforming the law for women globally by opening the legal system to their injuries and exposing the gendered basis of sex crimes.” (Encyclopedia Britannica).  Prof. MacKinnon prepared a distinguished lecture specifically for the Academy focused on The Intersections of Sex and Labor Trafficking.

The Academy also featured Martha Mendoza, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and 2019 finalist, whose investigations into slavery in the seafood sector and use of technology led to the freedom of more than 2,000 men; Martina E. Vandenberg, who spent two decades fighting human trafficking, forced labor, rape as a war crime, and violence against women and who led novel pursuits of civil litigation against diplomats who exploited women in domestic servitude; Susan French, a former federal human trafficking prosecutor with the Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, who has successfully brought high impact landmark labor trafficking cases such as U.S. v. Calimlim and U.S. v. Kil Soo Lee; Professor Kathleen C. Kim of Loyola Law School, LMU in Los Angeles, the co-author of Human Trafficking Law and Policy, the leading casebook on human trafficking; Professor Dr. Mohamed Y. Mattar, the founding Executive Director at The Protection Project of the Foreign Policy Institute at Johns Hopkins University, and an international expert on anti-trafficking legislation with over 15 years of experience in more than 75 countries; Dr. Elizabeth K. Hopper, Director of Project REACH at The Trauma Center at Justice Resource Institute; Dr. Hilary Chester, Associate Director of Anti-Trafficking Programs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Migration and Refugee Services; and Professor Nora V. Demleitner, Professor of Law at Washington and Lee University School of Law.

Courses were also taught by Miami attorneys Barbara Martinez, Former Chief of Special Prosecutions in the U.S. Attorney’s Office SDFL and Global Compliance and Investigation Team at Holland & Knight LLP; Ana Vallejo, Co-Director & Attorney at VIDA Legal Assistance, Inc.; Alicia Priovolos, Director of the Human Trafficking Unit of the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office; and Liza Smoker, Managing Director of the Human Trafficking Academy.

The Academy’s work is well-grounded on the life, experience, perseverance, courage, and wisdom of survivors of human trafficking who offer most important insights and expertise to guide the Academy’s ongoing efforts.  The Academy was honored to host survivors of human trafficking both as expert instructors as well as participants.  The Honorable Suleman Masood, a Council Member on the United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking, and The Honorable Evelyn Chumbow, a survivor of child labor trafficking turned anti-trafficking activist and public speaker who has focused her life’s work on ending modern-day slavery, guided all who attended in the path to empowerment toward an effective fight for human dignity.

On July 30, 2020, The World Day Against Trafficking in Person was honored at the Summer Academy with courses aimed at examining the impacts of tradition and culture in labor trafficking.  In addition, The Honorable Katherine Fernandez Rundle of the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office greeted participants at the Academy with a video message.

The Academy extends its appreciation to all who participated in this year’s Summer Academy, and to our most generous benefactor, the late Mr. John J. Brunetti.  We look forward to offering an entirely new lineup of dynamic courses taught by the foremost experts at next year’s Summer Academy on July 26 – 30, 2021!

The full list of expert instructors at the 2020 Summer Academy is available here.