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Students Put Legal Knowledge to Work in Eastern Europe

It all started with a nudge from the Career Services Office in Regent University's School of Law. Third-year law students Anastasios Kamoutsas and Mary Hill discovered that the A21 Campaign, an international non-governmental organization dedicated to ending human trafficking around the globe, was hiring interns. One application process later, Kamoutsas was on his way to Greece and Hill found herself in Ukraine.

Both internships were sponsored by the Center for Global Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law, housed in Regent's School of Law.

As an intern in the A21 Campaign office in Greece, Kamoutsas worked primarily on the organization's yearly submission to the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report. The TIP is a tool the U.S. State Department uses to represent a global look at the nature and scope of human trafficking and the range of government actions being taken to confront and eliminate it.

Greece was a prime location to learn firsthand about the work being done to prevent and rescue victims of trafficking, Kamoutsas explained. "In Greece, specifically, the issue is that there's not enough awareness going on," he said. "If there was some type of awareness of human trafficking, it would prevent a lot of the women from being trafficked."

Working with A21 in Ukraine, Hill gathered information from all 129 of the major universities in Ukraine with the aim of developing plans to contact all of the universities and bring awareness of the trafficking problem to the student body and professors. She was also responsible for creating awareness flyers to be distributed in destination countries of Ukrainian-trafficked victims, primarily in Eastern Europe.

"The purpose of providing this information is to equip the various countries, and specifically the student population looking for jobs, with accurate information," Hill said. Just as in Greece, lack of awareness is the biggest factor in trafficking, she explained. "Because internet service is not always available, students seeking international and even domestic jobs are at a high risk of encountering traffickers whose promises of financial compensation are unrealistic yet seductively tempting."

Hill also created a pamphlet explaining legal rights of trafficking victims. The pamphlet will be translated into Russian and given to trafficked girls in shelters so that they will know their rights if they decide to go through the process that will give them victim status.

For both law students, a firsthand look at the work of the A21 Campaign also opened their eyes to a darker side of humanity. "I wasn't aware of how prevalent trafficking was in Europe," Kamoutsas said. And, despite the prevalence, "There are no attorneys who are familiar with the subject to litigate," he added. "It's very difficult to resolve the issue."

Their experiences in Eastern Europe left an impression that neither Kamoutsas nor Hill will quickly forget. "It helped me to put into perspective the value of a law degree," Hill said after she returned. "This internship has revealed to me the need for attorneys that will fight against the issue of sex trafficking. It is hard for the victims to get an attorney to take their case, because many times they don't have the money to pay one. Even though it is part of the law that a victim of trafficking have legal aid, it is scarcely practiced due a general lack of enforcement of the written law."

Like Hill, Kamoutsas discovered a great need for providing legal help to victims. "[God's] given me a heart for it," he explained. "It's to fulfill a purpose that He has that maybe I don't even see right now.

"It's more than just a profession, it is a calling," he added, quoting Regent Law's motto. "There's just a greater purpose. You really have to have the perspective that this life is temporary, and we're only here to fulfill His plan."

Learn more about The Center for Global Justice.

By Rachel Judy

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