Special to The Banner-News
The Justice Department today announced the designation and appointment of a National Human Trafficking Coordinator and a National Coordinator for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction.
The Attorney General has designated Hilary Axam, Director of the Civil Rights Division's Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit (HTPU), to serve as the Department's National Human Trafficking Coordinator, and has designated Steven J. Grocki, Chief of the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), as the Department's National Coordinator for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction.
"Human trafficking and child exploitation are devastating crimes that prey on some of the most vulnerable members of society, and the Department of Justice is committed to preventing and prosecuting these cases and to vindicating the rights of victims and survivors," said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. "Hilary Axam and Steven Grocki bring critical experience to their roles as National Coordinators, and I am grateful for their continued dedication to the Department's fight against these crimes and to strengthening our capacity to protect victims and hold perpetrators accountable."
The Attorney General's designation of the National Human Trafficking Coordinator is made pursuant to the Abolish Human Trafficking Act, while his designation of the National Coordinator for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction is made pursuant to the PROTECT Our Children Act of 2008. Both Coordinators are responsible for developing and implementing Department-wide and interagency national strategies, coordinating efforts throughout the Department, and representing the Department in significant interagency and external stakeholder engagements. As widely recognized subject matter experts in their respective fields, each will play a central role in guiding Departmental-level policies, strategies, and priorities.
"Human trafficking inflicts unspeakable harm on some of the most vulnerable members of society. We must do everything in our power to combat these grave violations of victims' civil rights and bring human traffickers to justice," said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. "Under Hilary Axam's leadership, the Civil Rights Division's Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit has been widely recognized, both nationally and globally, as leading experts in victim-centered, trauma-informed approaches to seeking justice for human trafficking survivors. Her extensive experience and specialized expertise will be critical as we continue advancing our whole-of-Department fight against human trafficking."
"Child exploitation is one of the most reprehensible and destructive offenses confronting our nation today" said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department's Criminal Division. "The Criminal Division's Chief of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Steven J. Grocki, has extensive experience in investigating and prosecuting child exploitation cases and leads our campaign to combat the sexual exploitation of children. As National Coordinator for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction, he will guide Department-level policies, strategies, and priorities in this area. The National Coordinator will also draw directly upon the specialized expertise within the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and work to ensure proper coordination with subject matter experts within and outside of the Department."
Hilary Axam has served as the Director of the HTPU in the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division since 2009. She previously served as the Unit's Senior Litigation Counsel. Since joining the Department as a federal prosecutor in 2001, she has prosecuted and supervised human trafficking cases of national significance involving sex trafficking, compelled farm and factory labor, domestic servitude, and forced labor in restaurants, bars, and cantinas. As HTPU's Director, Axam serves as one of the Department's preeminent anti-trafficking subject matter experts.
Steven Grocki was selected to serve as Chief of the Criminal Division's CEOS in October 2015. Grocki first joined CEOS in 2004 and has since served as a Trial Attorney, Assistant Deputy Chief, Deputy Chief, and now Chief. CEOS and its High Technology Investigative Unit are the nation´s experts in prosecuting federal child exploitation cases, including online child exploitation crimes, extraterritorial offenders, and child sex trafficking. CEOS also develops national and global policy seeking to eradicate the sexual exploitation of children and builds national and global response capacity through training and outreach.