For Immediate Release - April 27, 2012

AG Coakley, Interagency Coalition Convene for Second Meeting of Human Trafficking Task Force

Task Force Consists of Law Enforcement Officials, State and Community Representatives, Advocates, and Survivors

BOSTON – Yesterday, Attorney General Coakley and an interagency coalition of law enforcement officials, state and community representatives, advocates, and survivors appointed to the Human Trafficking Task Force convened for the second meeting of the task force since the new human trafficking law went into effect. 

“The meetings of this task force are vital in continuing our important work to combat human trafficking,” said AG Coakley. “We will continue to work together to end the exploitation of people in our Commonwealth.”

As part of the new human trafficking law, the Legislature created an interagency Human Trafficking Task Force to address all aspects of human trafficking through policy changes.  The task force is charged with combating human trafficking through service development, demand reduction, system change, public awareness, and training. 

The comprehensive human trafficking legislation, An Act Relative to the Commercial Exploitation of People, was signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick on November 21, 2011.  The law went into effect on February 19, 2012.  The legislation establishes the state crimes of human trafficking for sexual servitude and human trafficking for forced labor.

At yesterday’s meeting, held at 100 Cambridge Street, chairs and task force members were identified for each of the five subcommittees created around the areas of data collection and information sharing, public awareness, victim needs and services, education and training, and demand.  Subcommittees will begin meeting in the upcoming weeks.  At yesterday’s meeting, the full Task Force established and approved a work timeline.  Amy Farrell, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at Northeastern University’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, and member of the Human Trafficking Task Force, discussed research findings specific to the challenges associated with identifying, investigating and prosecuting human trafficking cases. 

The first Human Trafficking Task Force meeting was held on February 29, 2012.  On April 11, 2012, AG Coakley announced that a new Assistant Attorney General, Deborah Bercovitch, has been appointed to pursue human trafficking cases as a part of the Human Trafficking Prosecution Strike Force within the AG’s Enterprise and Major Crimes Division.  Bercovitch, an attorney with extensive prosecution experience, will investigate and prosecute criminal organizations involved in the trafficking and exploitation of people for sex and labor. 

The Human Trafficking Task Force is chaired by AG Coakley and also includes representatives from Massachusetts State Police, Massachusetts Police Chiefs Association, Massachusetts District Attorney’s Association, Boston Police Department, Division of Professional Licensure, Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance, Department of Labor Standards, Department of Children and Families, Executive Office of Public Safety, and the Office of Probation.  The task force also consists of a representative of a group dedicated to immigrant and refugee issues, a representative of a group dedicated to the prevention of violence against women, a representative of an entity dedicated to prevention of and intervention in the trafficking of children, a survivor of human trafficking, a human trafficking attorney, a human trafficking caseworker, a mental health professional, and a university researcher with a background in human trafficking, all who have been appointed by Governor Patrick.

More information about the task force can be found on the Human Trafficking Initiative section of the AG’s website.  Meeting notices will be posted according to Open Meeting Law.  The next meeting of the task force will take place on June 13, 2012.

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