U.S. SouthCom Gen. John F. Kelly to Keynote International Conference on Human Trafficking

Lt. Gen. Martin Steele (Ret.) and leading law enforcement, human rights leaders and academics take part in Oct. 1-3 conference; free and open to the public.

Graphic: Anne Scott | USF News  

Photos(Gen. Kelly) Courtesy U.S. Department of Defencse; (Rachel May) Rebecca Blackwell

By Barbara Melendez

     USF News

TAMPA, Fla. (Sept. 18, 2014) – Slavery was abolished – officially – in 1865, yet slavery persists in the United States and around the world in the form of human trafficking. Global in nature, this multi-faceted, multi-dimensional and multi-billion dollar “industry” requires a global response aimed at its ultimate eradication. USF is taking a bold step in helping to accelerate the pace – with the means at its disposal.

The USF Institute for the Study of Latin America and the Caribbean (ISLAC), in coordination with the United States Southern Command (U.S. SouthCom), is presenting a three-day conference: “Promoting Collaboration and International Partnerships to Combat and Mitigate Human Trafficking*,” Oct. 1 through 3. This event is free and open to the public.

The keynote speaker is General John F. Kelly, the commander of US SouthCom in Doral, Florida. He will be introduced by USF President Judy Genshaft and Marine Lt. Gen. Martin R. Steele (Ret.). The Keynote Address, Oct. 1, at 2:30 in the Patel Center for Global Solutions Auditorium, will be followed by a networking reception in honor of General Kelly.

Among six panels focused on the most challenging aspects of human trafficking there will be participation by representatives from the Tampa Police Department’s Criminal Intelligence Bureau and the FBI’s Task Force from the bureau’s human trafficking program in Tampa. Norma Ledezma, the coordinator for the Mexican non-governmental organization (NGO) Justicia para Nuestras Hijas (Justice for our Daughters) will also be in attendance. Her own daughter was murdered in 2002.

“We have designed this conference as a series of shared conversations between different constituencies on both labor and sex trafficking,” said ISLAC Director, Associate Professor Rachel May. “The idea is to discuss international collaboration and strategies to effectively fight these horrific crimes.”

Each panel features representatives from five realms, domestic and international NGOs, law enforcement, government – local, state, federal or international – as well as the military and academia. The moderators in each are highly informed and engaged in the subject areas.

“The panels are laying the groundwork for a forthcoming website that we will maintain,” May said. The site will provide ongoing statistics, follow-up on whatever progress in made as well as additional resources and a list of organizations battling the problems associated with human trafficking.

The schedule:

Wednesday, Oct. 1: Patel Center for Global Solutions Auditorium

Keynote Address – 2:30 p.m.

Thursday Oct. 2: USF Marshall Student Center – Heron Room 3709

Panel 1: Public Awareness and Education – 9 to 10:30 a.m.

Panel 2: Rescuing and Providing Services for Victims – 10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Panel 3: Technology, Geography and Combatting Trafficking – 1:15 to 2:45 p.m.

Panel 4: Defining the Scope of the Problem and Data Collection – 3 to 4:30 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 3: USF Marshall Student Center – Heron Room 3709

Panel 5: Arresting and Prosecuting Perpetrators – 10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Panel 6: Epidemiology, Public Health and the Trafficking of Persons – 10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

The conference closes with an invitation only meeting and reception – 12:30 to 2 p.m.

“There are more slaves in the world today than at any other time in human history,” says May. “And as much as 80 per cent of human trafficking is for sex – most of the rest is forced labor. The adults and children who are victims of human trafficking number in the tens of millions.

“Most people don’t realize that both men and women are involved as recruiters in luring people into situations where they are sold into slavery and most of their victims are woman and children. Those recruiters are most often strangers but not by much – an estimated 46 per cent are known to their victims as family members or so-called friends.

“Sadly, these are little known facts and very few of us are familiar with the signs that are sometimes right out in the open. It’s going to take a major joining of forces to fight this extremely lucrative and largely hidden criminal enterprise. We hope that the conference will help play a role in educating the public and help support the efforts that are already underway.”

This event is sponsored by ISLAC, USF World and USF Research One.

For more information, contact ISLAC at (813) 974-0307; or Rebecca Blackwell at rblackwell@mail.usf.edu or visit http://islac.usf.edu/.

*DISCLAIMER: The title of the agenda and its content are for informational purposes only and the participation of Southern Command in this event does not constitute an official endorsement of USF by Southern Command or the Department of Defense."

Barbara Melendez can be reached at 813-974-4563