New City, NY (January 15, 2014) – Rockland County Legislator Harriet Cornell is supporting measures to strengthen the state’s existing human trafficking laws to prosecute traffickers more effectively, and place more emphasis on the care and treatment of the victims.
Cornell has prepared a resolution in support of a recent report released by the NY State Bar Association and its Special Committee on Human Trafficking, which had examined the problem, evaluated current state laws and issued a series of recommended solutions. The report outlines a series of recommendations that includes: reclassifying sex trafficking as a Class B felony, immunity for whistleblowers, monetary rewards when prosecution results; make suspicion of child trafficking a reporter requirement, amend child protective provisions to include child victims of trafficking, expand surveillance authority; expand victim referral services and allow victims to bring cases to civil courts. Cornell’s resolution calls upon the state to incorporate these measures into existing laws by amending New York Penal Law, the Family Court Act, New York Social Services Law, and Criminal Procedure Law.
The report stated that in New York, estimates list nearly 12,000 case of human trafficking between 2000 and 2010 and that state officials have confirmed 224 cases since 2007, half occurring in New York City.
“Human trafficking is a depraved, unconscionable act which enslaves and exploits children and adults for illicit monetary gain,” said Legislator Cornell. “Our laws must be improved to deter this criminal activity by strengthening prosecution and allowing measures that threaten the profitability of traffickers. The state should establish a civil private right of action to allow victims to bring cases to civil court, undercutting the profit motive of traffickers. We must also ensure that the victims receive appropriate care in the aftermath of their individual circumstance.” Cornell applauded Governor Cuomo's recent action to implement one of the recommendations contained in the report by signing a bi-partisan bill into law that will afford 16 and 17
year-old victims of sex trafficking the same protection as those currently given to younger victims.
Cornell, a founder and Co-Chair of STOP F.E.A.R. organized, with the Center for Safety and Change, a major conference on sex trafficking last November designed for law enforcement personnel in advance of the Super Bowl. Her work on trafficking with community members including the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill, helped pass the state’s first anti-trafficking law in 2007.
“Because this year’s Super Bowl will be held in New Jersey, much attention is presently focused on the probability of increased activity. New York’s anti-trafficking laws still fall short,” stated Cornell. “I support the NYS Bar Association recommendations which focus on child trafficking, sex trafficking and labor trafficking.
This is Modern-day slavery and it occurs on our doorstep. Efforts to prosecute and curb this inhuman activity should be a part of our consciousness, year round. I urge the State Legislature to enact into law these comprehensive recommendations.”