For Immediate Release - January 14, 2014

AG Coakley Highlights Progress, Next Steps in Observation of January as Human Trafficking Prevention Month

BOSTON – In observation of January as Human Trafficking Prevention Month, Attorney General Martha Coakley issued the following statement:

“Since the passage of the human trafficking law, we have made great strides in our efforts to combat human trafficking, though our work is far from over. 

“This past year, we submitted a comprehensive set of recommendations to the Legislature that provide a road map for how the Commonwealth can most efficiently and effectively combat human trafficking. We have since established five multidisciplinary teams of experts that have been tasked with identifying an action plan for implementation.

“Our office is also proud to announce the recently-formed Human Trafficking Unit, tasked with taking a collaborative approach to addressing human trafficking through policy, prosecutions, victim services and education. Since the law was passed, our office has charged 13 individuals with human trafficking and continues to aggressively investigate these exploitative operations and assist victims.

“Through these efforts, we remain committed to the successful implementation of the law, improving victim services, increasing trainings and education, and supporting investigations and prosecutions to end the exploitation of people in our Commonwealth.”

BACKGROUND:

Signed by Governor Deval Patrick in November 2011, the comprehensive bill established the state crimes of human trafficking for sexual servitude and human trafficking for forced labor. The law went into effect on Feb. 19, 2012. The law also mandated an interagency task force made up of 19 organizations, including human trafficking survivors, law enforcement, victim services advocates, academia, and state agencies, which made recommendations to the Legislature in August on all aspects of human trafficking, including improvements to victim services, data collection and sharing, and training. To further the work of the task force, AG Coakley established five specialized teams focused on implementation of the recommendations made in the report in the areas of labor trafficking, information sharing, minor victims of sex trafficking, safe homes, and education and training.

The AG’s Office also created a Human Trafficking Unit to be led by Assistant Attorney General Deborah Bercovitch, who joined the AG’s Office in 2012 as the Commonwealth’s first statewide human trafficking prosecutor. Bercovitch will oversee a multi-disciplinary team that will take a collaborative approach to addressing human trafficking through policy, victim services, education and prosecutions.

The law to combat human trafficking in Massachusetts has been a significant tool in the AG’s effort to end the exploitation of people by holding perpetrators accountable, supporting survivors, and raising awareness of this critical issue. For more information about the AG’s Human Trafficking Initiative, please click here.

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