In the Western World, slavery was thought to have been eradicated in the ages of William Wilberforce and Abraham Lincoln. Tragically, that was not the case then; neither is it the case today. More people are enslaved today than at any other time in recorded history. Between 27 and 30 million are enslaved in a system known as human trafficking–where humans use and abuse other humans, primarily children and women, for economic gain through labor, sexual exploitation, and body parts.
On January 23-25, 2009, Bryan College will host its second annual human trafficking conference, "The Criminal Justice Response to Human Trafficking." Abraham Lee of the U.S. Department of State will serve as the opening keynote speaker. New Scotland Yard (NSY) is sending one of their top crime fighters to serve as concluding conference keynote speaker: Detective Sergeant Roddy Llewellyn, of the Operation Maxim Human Trafficking Team based at NSY, London, England. In addition, the International Justice Mission (IJM) will provide conference attendees insights into legal approaches to fight this injustice.
The first annual conference, "Scourge: Human Trafficking--Slavery in the 21st Century," was in January 2008. Speakers included investigative journalist Christine Dolan; Mr. Abraham Lee from the U.S. Department of State; and theologians Paul Boling, Carter Johnson, and Ken Turner. Through the research, writings, and words of these experts, visions of the untold and virtually unknown saga of human trafficking emerged in this three-day national conference.
Dr. Ron Petitte, director of Bryan’s Center for Leadership Studies, which co-sponsored last year’s national conference, is again taking the lead with the Bryan Chapter of Students Stopping the Trafficking of Persons (SSTOP) to co-sponsor a conference that confronts the spectre of human trafficking on an international scale by offering this second annual conference, "Criminal Justice Response to Human Trafficking."
A preconference criminal justice forum featuring New Scotland Yard will take place in Chattanooga, Tennessee, led by Mr. Dennis Miller, Bryan's Executive Director of External Relations. Mr. Miller and Dr. Petitte, who worked together on last year's conference, have teamed up once again to provide the city of Chattanooga and its surrounding counties with this unique crime-stopping forum.
Dr. Petitte states that “We now know the facts; we also know the depths of depravity to which human traffickers will go in carrying out this evil trade. Therefore, it is time to address and explore criminal justice solutions to this 21st Century scourge.” Last year Bryan senior, Jessica Hundley, said the conference made her realize that the depths of the Fall are significantly greater than she had imagined. The sheer evil of the situation struck so many attendees.
Dr. Petitte argues that the problem of human trafficking still largely is unknown; and that, unfortunately, most people are clueless. He adds that Bryan College is on the cutting edge by first, informing people and second, by addressing appropriate responses nationally and internationally. People must be made aware; consciousness levels must be raised. Until the Christian and the humanitarian, the religious and the secular communities, are fully aware of the breadth and depth of this scourge and commit to supporting local, regional, state, national, and international criminal justice solutions, nothing is going to be done, let alone accomplished for the victims of human trafficking.