2016-09-14 / Political Page

Simotas Bill Helping Trafficking Victims Now Law

Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas announced that her bill, A4967, to help victims of human trafficking, was signed into law on September 9 by Governor Cuomo. The new law takes effect in 60 days and requires the state Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) to create and make available a poster that would let people know help is available to trafficking victims, and that just one phone call to a special 800 number can free them from victimization.

“This new law now puts vital information in places where victims can see it and it gives them a chance to be rescued from this atrocious form of modern-day slavery,” Assemblywoman Simotas said. “We need to do everything possible to end this awful subjugation of human beings. I want to thank NYS Supreme Court Justice Lee Richard Price and the New York County Lawyers Association for bringing this to my attention.”

The law mandates that the posters give the name and toll-free number for the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline, at 1-888-373-7888.

“I am extremely pleased with this legislation and the added protection it would give to victims of trafficking. I commend the legislature for their progressive thinking and diligent work,” said Justice Richard Lee Price, Bronx County Supreme Court, Criminal Term. Justice Price is the Chair of the Law Related Education Committee at the New York County Lawyers Association

The National Human Trafficking Resource Center was created for the express purpose of providing victims of human trafficking “with access to critical support and services to get help and stay safe.” The hotline is a 24/7 service, operated with support from the U.S. Justice Department.

The law requires the following statement be included on the poster:

“If you or someone you know is being forced to engage in any activity and cannot leave – whether it is commercial sex, housework, farm work, or any other similar activity – call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline at 1- 888-373-7888 to access help and services. Victims of human trafficking are eligible for protections and services under United States and New York State laws. The hotline is:

1. Available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week;

2. Tool-free;

3. Operated by a non-profit, non-governmental organization;

4. Anonymous and confidential;

5. Accessible in one hundred seventy languages; and

6. Able to help with referral to services, training and general information.”

Under provisions of the new law, these informational posters would be made available in multiple languages for placement in public places where they are likely to be seen by trafficking victims. These locations include: bus stations, highway rest stops and truck stops, airports, adult or sexually oriented businesses, hospitals and urgent care centers.

“I intend to monitor the implementation and effectiveness of the new antitrafficking law. If additional measures are needed to spread the word about this critical hotline, then I’m prepared to draft another bill,” Simotas said.

Human trafficking involves the use of force, fraud or coercion to trap people into various forms of servitude. People are trafficked not only for sex, but also to perform housework, childcare, restaurant, farm and construction work and other labor, receiving no pay or grossly low pay. Immigrant victims of human trafficking often have their identification and travel documents taken away, can’t speak English and live in a constant state of fear. Domestically trafficked victims are often young runaways who end up in sexual servitude.

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