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Upcoming law intensive unit to explore Modern Slavery Law

Human trafficking, organised crime and corporate responsibility among a range of complex issues explored by international expert Professor Felicity Gerry QC.

An intensive unit focusing on challenging, contemporary law issues will give Deakin law students the rare opportunity to undertake specialist study while fast-tracking credit towards their degree.

The week-long Trimester 2 unit Contemporary Legal Issues  specialises on the topic of Modern Slavery Law with a particular focus on corporate responsibility, organised crime and cyber-linkages.

Leading international barrister

Taught by leading international barrister Professor Felicity Gerry QC, the unit analyses the specific legal issues and controversies that surround the topic of Modern Slavery Law while taking into account social attitudes, institutional practices, relevant laws, and legal processes.

Prof. Gerry QC is an international Queen’s Counsel at Crockett Chambers, Melbourne and Carmelite Chambers, London where she specialises in serious and complex criminal trials and appeals as well as judicial reviews.

Incorporating international scope, her work includes defending in terrorism trials and appearing in appeals on murder, manslaughter and intentional HIV infection.

Prof. Gerry’s research into human trafficking and modern slavery is widely published with her most recent work ‘Practitioner Perspective Feminism in Court: Practical Solutions for tackling the wicked problem of women’s invisibility in criminal justice,’ appearing in the 2019 Research Handbook on Feminist Engagement with International Law – Research Handbooks in International Law Series .

Among her many career achievements, Prof. Gerry led the appeal in R v Jogee in the UK Supreme Court – which was described by the BBC as a ‘moment of genuine legal history’ – and she is one of the few women silks to defend in a terrorism trial.  She also recently led a team of academics and practitioners who were given leave to file an Amicus Curiae Brief in the ICTY Radovan Karadzic Appeal.

Within DLS, Prof. Gerry is Professor of Legal Practice where she is involved in clinical programs and also lectures in Criminal Law, Criminal Law and Policy, and Modern Slavery.

Prof. Gerry says that initially, she wanted to be a journalist but chose to study law because it seemed a good foundational starting-point for a media career.

‘But I took part in client interviewing and mooting and did some work experience with solicitors and barristers and decided I wanted to go to the Bar to be a courtroom advocate. I was always interested in theatre … [so] dressing up in black robes and going to court every day for an intelligent and complex argument seemed the perfect profession for me!’

She’s currently undertaking a PhD that is researching the technology used to combat human trafficking and says it was her interest in human trafficking defences that drew her to the topic of modern slavery.

‘I became interested in defences for human trafficking victims who commit crime through defending vulnerable women in criminal cases – including a woman on death row who was the subject of the ABC’s Foreign Correspondent documentary Saving Mary Jane. This led to my interest in modern slavery law and the corporate responsibility for combatting slavery in supply chains,’ she explains.

Human trafficking and modern global law

Students undertaking Prof. Gerry’s intensive unit are introduced to the UN Trafficking Protocol and its implementation through the 2018 Australian Modern Slavery Act and the 2015 UK Modern Slavery Act while also learning about other international responses.

Throughout the program, commitments to the protection of human trafficking victims are examined from four main perspectives: corporate reporting of slavery in supply chains, defences for human trafficking victims who commit crime, the relationship between the offence of trafficking in persons, and the extent this offence could be prosecuted before international criminal courts and tribunals.

DLS academic Dr Nicole Siller, a specialist in human trafficking research, is also contributing to the week-long unit with a lecture on trafficking as a transnational organised crime and how it can be prosecuted before international criminal courts and tribunals.

Completing her doctoral thesis ‘Trafficking in Persons under International Law and Its Incorporation within Enslavement as a Crime against Humanity’, Dr Siller has published several journal articles and presented a significant amount of conference papers around the globe on legal issues relating to trafficking in persons and human exploitation.

Prof. Gerry says the specialised intensive provides DLS students with an important ‘heads-up’ on a major area of global modern law and policy reform.

‘It delivers a sound basis for future careers in corporate or criminal law as well as an understanding of global human rights issues. It also covers modern technological issues which are relevant to all aspects of teaching, learning and legal career advancement.’

Ongoing projects

Alongside her teaching and QC responsibilities, Prof. Gerry is currently working on three other projects: whether Victoria should have its own modern slavery act, legal pathways to stop international logging (which is linked to one of her cases), and an Indigenous Justice and Exoneration Project assisting long-term prisoners with out-of-time appeals and policy submissions on law reform to criminal justice for Indigenous peoples.

She says it’s an ongoing pleasure and privilege to be involved with teaching the next generation of legal professionals.

‘At DLS I am supported to help engage students in contemporary legal issues and clinical case experiential learning. I also like to inspire young lawyers, particularly women, to enjoy the law and be professional about legal activism.’

The Trimester 2 Modern Slavery Law intensive will be delivered 9.00 am – 4.00 pm Monday 15th July to Friday 19th July 2019 (inclusive) and more information can be found here (link?).


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