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Hochul signs legislation to increase awareness of resources for human trafficking victims


Thu, Dec 9th 2021 05:05 pm

Legislation requires law enforcement and district attorney's offices to advise human trafficking victims of the availability of social & legal services

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Thursday signed legislation that requires law enforcement and district attorney's offices to advise human trafficking victims of the availability of social and legal services. Upon encountering a person who reasonably appears to be or says they are a victim of human trafficking, law enforcement personnel must advise the victim of the availability of social and legal services specific to human trafficking cases. The agency will offer to connect the victim with the appropriate provider, unless the individual declines the services.

"Human trafficking is a global epidemic, and we must do all we can to end these horrible crimes here in New York," Hochul said. "It is not enough to just put laws in place to prevent trafficking – we must prioritize supporting survivors and ensure they have the legal and social services resources they need to recover from such a tragic experience."

Hochul’s team said, “Human trafficking is a prevalent issue through the United States. While New York state has enacted a number of important measures to assist human trafficking survivors – such as the START act, signed last month, that strengthened protections for victims of trafficking – this bill takes that one step further to ensure that survivors will be able to promptly access needed social and legal services.”

New York State Sen. Jessica Ramos said, "The time it takes for a survivor of human trafficking to be connected to essential resources – whether it be mental health support, housing or health care – can make all the difference. S249 ensures that law enforcement and district attorneys must prioritize a person's immediate needs, and connect them with someone who speaks their language and is primarily concerned with their wellbeing. The kind of holistic intake envisioned by Assembly member Hevesi and my bill moves best practices towards a focus of care and safety, instead of potentially deepening the trauma and fear for survivors."

Assembly member Andrew Hevesi said, "I am extremely proud that this legislation, which passed the Senate and Assembly unanimously, was signed into law. Connecting survivors of human trafficking to appropriate social and legal services as soon as possible is crucial. I am grateful to Sen. Ramos for her leadership on this issue, and Gov. Hochul for signing this legislation."

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