School of Law symposium to examine state and federal human trafficking laws

Case Western Reserve University School of Law will analyze state and federal human trafficking laws in a daylong symposium that also will address how to prepare for an expected rise in human trafficking during this summer’s Republic National Convention (RNC).

The “Human Trafficking Law Symposium,” which will feature experts in human trafficking law, social work and law enforcement, is Friday, March 11, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the law school, Room A59.

Concerns about sex and labor trafficking are intensifying in Cleveland and neighboring communities as the city prepares for an expected 50,000 visitors in July for the RNC, said Maureen Kenny, a Case Western Reserve law professor and symposium organizer. A spike in human trafficking is common when any national event draws a big crowd, she said.

Hospitality service providers, such as hotels or restaurants, may have a need to quickly expand the labor force, which could involve bringing in undocumented workers. Some convention participants could be lured by a likely onslaught of posted Internet ads from sex providers, she said.

“Strategic responses are needed to effectively prepare for an expected rise in human trafficking in Northeast Ohio,” said Kenny, who is co-director with Judith Lipton of the Human Trafficking Law Clinic at the law school.

The experiential law clinic, which began last fall with a grant from the Ohio attorney general’s office, is representing its first human trafficking clients.

Kenny, an appointee and a legal adviser to Ohio’s Human Trafficking Commission, will open the symposium with a talk titled “Introduction to Human Trafficking: Federal and State Laws and Statistics.” In the afternoon, she will present “Child Victims of Human Trafficking—How Society and Our Laws Exploit Them.”

Although labor trafficking is a large part of human trafficking, Kenny said that in Cleveland and other big cities, people subjected to human trafficking often are women and girls used for sex.

“They are coerced or brainwashed,” Kenny said. “They don’t often go asking for help, and it’s hard to detect. It happens behind closed doors. Both sex trafficking and labor trafficking are very hard to prove.”

Among the scheduled speakers are:

The event is free and open to the public. The session is approved for six hours of Continuing Legal Education Credit.