New York State Senator Thomas P. Morahan announced that legislation to help combat the trafficking of human beings was signed into law by the Governor. The new law will make Sex Trafficking and Labor Trafficking felony-level crimes and provides access to state social services for trafficking victims. In 2006, Senator Morahan was a sponsor of comprehensive legislation to strengthen the state’s laws relating to human trafficking by increasing penalties, protecting minors and providing victim assistance. He strongly praised the new law.
"I commend the Governor for signing this law which recognizes human trafficking of women, men and children as a severe form of abuse and torture. This new law will combat trafficking in New York, which currently serves as an entry, transit, and destination point for large numbers of trafficking victims," said Morahan.
The United States Department of State has estimated that between 18,000 and 20,000 people are trafficked into the United States each year for forced labor, involuntary domestic servitude, or sexual exploitation. New York is known to be a frequent port of entry for such activity. Trafficking also originates domestically, and both types of trafficking frequently involve children.
Under the new law, traffickers who advance or profit from prostitution activity by compelling, inducing, deceiving or forcing their victims into prostitution activity can be convicted of the class B felony of Sex Trafficking. Traffickers who exploit workers using similar types of coercive activity can be convicted of the class D felony of Labor Trafficking.
Under the new law, victims of trafficking who are not otherwise eligible for social services, either because they are not United States citizens or because they are foreign nationals who have not yet been certified as eligible for federal assistance programs, can now receive social service assistance from the state. These services include case management, emergency temporary housing, health and mental health care, drug addiction screening and treatment, language and translation services, and job training. They also include coordination with the federal government to obtain special visas that allow the victims in the United States to testify against the traffickers, eventually becoming eligible for refugee status.
The new law provides for the creation of an interagency task force to coordinate implementation of the new law, collect data on trafficking, and recommend best practices for training and community outreach to help law enforcement, social service providers, prosecutors, defense attorneys and the general public to recognize trafficking situations. The Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) has already begun training for prosecutors and law enforcement agencies.
Clarifying in statute that knowingly selling travel-related services to facilitate prostitution - a business known as "prostitution tourism"- is the class D felony of Promoting Prostitution in the Third Degree.
Suppressing the demand for prostitution by elevating the lowest-level patronizing a prostitute crime from a B to an A misdemeanor.