Cooley leads discussion on human trafficking issues

To create broader awareness and find solutions to address the issue of human trafficking in Michigan and around the globe, the Thomas M. Cooley Law School is hosting a live video simulcast discussion at its four Michigan campuses on Friday, Feb. 10, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The simulcast event is free and open to the public and there will be a question-and-answer session following the presentations.

The program is designed to engage law students, community members and the public in a discussion of human trafficking in the world today. Recent reports estimate that there are 27 million slaves around the world, including here in Michigan.

On January 11, which was National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said, "Every day across America, and right here in Michigan, men, women and children are bound by the chains of modern-day slavery. Our Constitution's 13th amendment bans slavery in all its forms, but human traffickers use force, fraud and coercion to hide their victims in the shadow. Our own family members are forced into prostitution, domestic servitude and other forms of labor. Even more alarming, approximately 40 percent of human trafficking cases involve the sexual abuse of a child."

Thomas M. Cooley Law School Professor E. Christopher Johnson Jr. is heading up the school's efforts to raise awareness about human trafficking. He was recently confronted with the issues of human trafficking while on a mission trip in India. Johnson is reaching out to government, non- governmental organizations and corporations to assess how the corporate sector is addressing human trafficking as part of their business practices.

"I did not have a concept of how detestable of a crime against humanity it really is," said Johnson. "I am proud that Cooley, along with the International Law Society, the American Constitution Society and Cooley's Graduate Program in Corporate Law and Finance is hosting this conference to make our students, faculty and members of the public more aware of this issue and engage them in working on solutions."

Speakers from Cooley's four campus locations in Michigan will discuss the state of slavery and trafficking in the world today: what it is, what the challenges are and what some of the solutions might be to address this issue in Michigan and around the globe. Presenters and their topics include:

* Wendy Sale, co-chair, Community Committee, Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force, human trafficking 101.

* Dr. Sabrina Black, vice chair, Michigan Rescue and Restore Coalition, international issues of human trafficking.

* Stephanie Hamilton, International Justice Mission, Trafficking Victims Protection Act and political advocacy.

* Pastor Bonnie Laudeman, Clarkston Community Church, faith-based response to human trafficking.

* Sarah Warpinski, MSU School of Law, will speak about the school's Abolitionist Society and the role for lawyers and law students in anti trafficking activities.

* Chris Johnson, Cooley professor, co-chair, Community Committee, Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force, corporate responsibility and trafficking.

Cooley's campus locations, where the program is being held and broadcast, are located at:

* Ann Arbor, 3475 Plymouth Road.

* Auburn Hills, 2630 Featherstone.

* Grand Rapids, 111 Commerce Avenue, SW.

* Lansing, 300 S. Capitol Avenue.

Published: Wed, Feb 8, 2012