State AG forms commission to combat human trafficking
CONCORD - Attorney General Michael Delaney wants to stop human trafficking in underage prostitutes and forced laborers through a 33-member commission to both raise public awareness and train first responders on how to better identify victims.
At a press conference Thursday, Delaney said an estimated 200,000 American children, some as young as 11 years old, are recruited each year by pimps who force them into prostitution.
A federal report found the majority of domestic victims enslaved in the sex industry are runaway and homeless youth.
Nationally, 450,000 children run away from home each year. One of every three teens on the street will be lured toward prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home, state and federal officials say, meaning at least 150,000 children are lured into prostitution each year.
Delaney noted the problem exists in New Hampshire, where state residents pay the pimps every weekend while the children are exploited.
He said one problem is the victims are sometimes treated like criminals by the system when they really need to be treated as the victims they are.
Delaney hopes the new commission will help standardize the treatment of trafficking victims.
The attorney general wants to use the commission to build a network of New Hampshire agencies and organizations to work collaboratively against human trafficking in the state.
The task force members include representatives from state, federal and local agencies; social service providers; law enforcement; attorneys and victim advocates.
New Hampshire was among the first states to make human trafficking a crime in 2009, but to date there has not been a unified effort, Delaney said. He said part of the commission's work will be to develop better training for law enforcement and other emergency personnel on how to recognize the victims of human trafficking.
"The Commission to Combat Human Trafficking hopes to continue to fight human trafficking in New Hampshire by identifying victims of human trafficking and creating pathways to connect them to services, by developing protocols on the handling of these cases, by providing multidisciplinary trainings throughout the state and by strengthening our state law," he said.
Delaney's announcement coincides with the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.