On November 17-20, American Military University (AMU) hosted Together Let’s Stop Traffick, an international summit aimed at promoting collaboration in the ongoing global fight to end human trafficking. Human trafficking is modern-day slavery and has been referred to as the “human rights issue of our era.” Traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to control a person for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex or providing labor services against his or her will. Human trafficking equates to a multi-billion dollar criminal industry that denies freedom to nearly 21 million people around the world, according to Polaris.
When AMU was approached by the FBI National Associates (FBINAA) and International Police Training Institute (IPTI) to participate in an international event to combat human trafficking, we took it a step further and decided to host the event at our campus in Charles Town, W. Va.
During the opening ceremonies, American Public University System (APUS) Senior Vice President and Associate Provost Gwen Hall noted the significance of Charles Town as the location for an anti-slavery event. “As some of you may know, John Brown organized his raid on Harper’s Ferry just down the road from here. Brown was captured, charged with treason, and hung just blocks from this building,” said Hall. “This area is symbolic of the abolitionist movement which led to the Civil War.”
More than 120 people attended the summit, representing 15 countries including Canada, Great Britain, Australia, and Brazil. The opening day featured speakers such as Leif Coorlim, the editorial director of CNN’s Freedom Project, and Dr. Danielle Johnson from Polaris, based in Washington D.C. Other speakers included representatives from the FBI and Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign, along with AMU faculty member Michael Pittaro, who discussed the importance of educating law enforcement officers about human trafficking. (You can read the entire speaker line up here).
The summit is just one example of AMU’s involvement in the fight against human trafficking. Part of the APUS online library is dedicated as a Human Trafficking Resource Guide, providing a starting place for research on the topic. We have also written extensively about human trafficking, especially as it pertains to educating law enforcement officers. In addition, the university offers an undergraduate class in our criminal justice program, which provides students with a better understanding of modern-day slavery.
While the summit was extremely successful in bringing together government, non-government, private entities, and experts from around the world to determine best practices in combating human trafficking, much work remains. For its part, AMU will continue working collaboratively with law enforcement, national security, and victim-services experts to help establish an International Resource Center on Human Trafficking. The center will serve as a focal point for researching and then identifying the most effective means possible to block trafficking efforts, bring perpetrators to justice, and assist victims of trafficking crime. We are proud to be a part of this important coalition.
Jeff Kuhn is a former Federal Special Prosecutor who has taught at the University of Baltimore School of Law. He is also a former Senior Court Executive with the New Jersey Administrative Office of the Courts. Prior to his practicing law, he completed his legal education while serving as a probation officer, working with a high-intensity case load. Kuhn is currently the Associate Vice-President, Business Development for the Public Safety and National Security Sectors at American Military University.