New York State Bar Association To Discuss Impact of COVID-19 on Human Trafficking

By Brandon Vogel

New York State Bar Association To Discuss Impact of COVID-19 on Human Trafficking

The Impact of COVID-19 on Human Trafficking_675

The New York State Bar Association is hosting a CLE Program on “The Impact of COVID-19 On Human Trafficking In The Labor Market” from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 13 to commemorate National Human Trafficking Prevention Month. The program is free and CLE credit is provided.

This CLE program will discuss how attorneys can identify victims of human trafficking in the labor market and the laws and services that exist in New York State and on the federal level to provide a path to freedom from trafficking for these victims.  This program is part of NYSBA’s efforts to end the scourge of human trafficking in New York and throughout the country.

Margaret J. Finerty, NYSBA’s representative on the New York State Interagency Task Force on Human Trafficking, said the task force, which was established in 2007, coordinates and supports New York’s interagency activities regarding human trafficking.

“This law was a watershed moment in New York’s efforts to address the critical problem of human trafficking taking place in many parts of our state and country, a problem that is often “hiding in plain sight,” Finerty said. “It brought about significant changes in the Penal Law and Criminal Procedure Law, making sex and labor trafficking a crime, as well as the Social Services Law, providing increased assistance to victims of human trafficking to break out of their oppression”

Today, there are many resources available to victims of human trafficking, both on the state and federal level.  In New York, there is legislation that allows human trafficking victims to seek a vacatur of criminal convictions that arose as a result of their trafficked status,[1] and to seek civil remedies against their enslaver in Civil Court.[2]

These resources, however, cannot be accessed unless the victims are made aware of them, and, in most cases, provided assistance in accessing them.  This is where the legal profession and others can play a role. Often victims are identified by those who may have incidental contact with them, such as medical providers at a health care facility or attorneys working with clients on immigration or criminal matters.  The victims of human trafficking are typically among the most vulnerable people in our society, and lawyers are in a unique position to help these victims, and have a special responsibility to do so.

 


[1] See S. 674/A. 459; signed into law on November 16, 2021.  The bill expands to other offenses New York’s prior law that provided vacatur of convictions for prostitution-related offenses resulting from human trafficking, for example, allowing for vacatur of convictions arising from labor trafficking, and allows for motions to be made confidentially; https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2021/S674.

[2] See S.672/A. 3186; signed into law on July 28, 2021.  The bill expands upon the prior law by creating a 15-year statute of limitations and allowing for compensatory and punitive damages, injunctive and other appropriate relief, and reasonable attorneys’ fees; https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2021/s672.

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