NYATN Statement on 2015 Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act: Calling on the NYS Senate to Pass Additional Anti-Trafficking Legislation
The NY Anti-Trafficking Network (NYATN) is the first network of anti-trafficking service providers, policy advocates, and activists in New York State. NYATN has provided direct legal and social services to several thousand survivors of human trafficking since 2002. NYATN is dedicated to ending human trafficking and to providing qualified and appropriate services that give survivors the help they want and need in reclaiming their lives.
NYATN roots our advocacy work in basic human rights principles. We are dedicated to a nuanced approach to anti-trafficking efforts that reduces reliance on the criminal justice system and instead values economic opportunity, immigration policy change, and gender equality. We stand firm in promoting dignity, self-determination, and opportunity for people of all genders and experiences.
Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act (A.506/S.007)
NYATN welcomes efforts to improve New York’s current anti-trafficking law—already one of the strongest and most comprehensive in the country—particularly those efforts aimed at meeting the needs of trafficking survivors. We are extremely pleased that the Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act (TVPJA) includes a private right of action for survivors of trafficking to seek compensation and economic justice, as well as an affirmative defense for people trafficked into prostitution. We appreciate that the TVPJA streamlines access to services for survivors.
While passage of the TVPJA is an important step forward in providing for the needs of trafficking survivors, its primary focus appears to be on enhanced criminal penalties that neither prevent trafficking, nor protect victims and survivors of trafficking. In fact, some of these provisions—such as the increase in penalties for crimes involving vehicles—actually harm victims of trafficking, as it is often a driver who facilitates escape from a trafficking situation. The provisions focused on prostitution in a school zone do not address trafficking at all. In addition, the provisions adding new offenses to the sex offender registry are not designed to identify traffickers or survivors of trafficking, and they do not prevent trafficking. In fact, they cause greater harm to young people and others at risk of being trafficked. Finally, the TVPJA does not equalize treatment of trafficking into all labor sectors.
NYATN is concerned and disappointed these unnecessary and potentially harmful provisions on criminal offenses have been included in the final TVPJA. We continue to call for responses to trafficking in persons rooted in human rights and dignity for all people at risk of being trafficked.
We applaud Assemblyman Joseph Lentol for recognizing several service-related elements were missing from the TVPJA and addressing this in a separate bill, A.2953. The Assembly has wisely passed the Lentol bill, and we now call on the Senate to take action this coming session. We ask for immediate action on this important additional component of New York’s anti-trafficking response and urge both houses to also pass the End Criminalization of Condoms Act, which would protect those most vulnerable to trafficking into prostitution. NYATN understands that enactment of the TVPJA does not signify that we have met all of New York’s anti-trafficking legislative priorities and recognizes there is more that can be accomplished toward this goal. We look forward to working with the Assembly and Senate to continue to improve New York State’s response to this crucial human rights issue.
NYATN members from Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, City Bar Justice Center, New York Asian Women’s Center, and Sex Workers Project at Urban Justice Center testified for the New York City Council on Friday, February 27, 2015 on, “Labor Trafficking in the Domestic Worker Industry – Resources for Victims in New York City (video).”
NYATN Advocates for a Human Rights-Based Approach for the Next Ambassador for the State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Office
NYATN submitted a letter in support of the appointment of a sophisticated anti-trafficking advocate who supports a human rights-based and comprehensive approach as the next Ambassador-at-Large for the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (J/TIP Office). A response to trafficking in persons that is rooted in human rights respect the dignity and self-determination of the person who is thought to be a victim. This means creating an environment where the person at risk is able to make his or her own decisions about the steps he or she needs to take in addressing the situation. It also means doing the due diligence to investigate whether a situation actually involves coercion and trafficking, or not. It is crucial that the J/TIP Office embodies our shared values of dignity, fairness, and opportunity that are central in a just society and for empowering people.
Report: Understanding the Organization, Operation, and Victimization Process of Labor Trafficking in the United States
A new report by the Urban Institute, “Understanding the Organization, Operation, and Victimization Process of Labor Trafficking in the United States,” was just released and is only the third government-funded study on the issue of human trafficking into labor. “This study chronicles the experiences of labor trafficking victims from the point of recruitment for work, their forced labor victimization, their attempts to escape and get help, and their efforts to seek justice through civil or criminal cases. The report finds that legal loopholes and lax enforcement enable labor traffickers to commit crimes against workers in major US industries: agriculture, domestic work, hotels, restaurants, and construction.” Articles have shared highlights of the report, such as, “How the Crime of Labor Trafficking Helps Cities Run” and “Slave Labor in America Today,” Read more….
NYATN members participated in the Freedom Network (USA)’s inaugural Member Report. NYATN members include the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, City Bar Justice Center’s Immigrant Women and Children Project, Florrie Burke, Safe Horizon, and Urban Justice Center’s Sex Workers Project. Among the primary findings is that of the more than 2000 trafficking survivors served, 73 percent were trafficked for labor throughout the United States. Read more….
Report Release – #OurFairCity: A Comprehensive Blueprint for Gender & Sexual Justice in New York City
The Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School announced the release of its report, Our Fair City: A Comprehensive Blueprint for Gender & Sexual Justice in New York City, which includes contributions from NYATN. Among the report’s recommendations are
- Prohibit NYPD Practice of Using Condoms as Evidence for Prostitution-Related Offenses,
- End Collaboration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Deportation and Detention, and
- Facilitate Access to Services for Trafficking Survivors.
Please use @NYATN and #OurFairCity to post or tweet about this report. Read more….
NYATN signed on, with 23 anti-trafficking organizations including the Freedom Network (USA), to member Sex Workers Project’s letter opposing MSNBC’s program, Slave Hunter: Freeing Victims of Human Trafficking. It states, in part: “While we respect your efforts to tackle a difficult and necessary subject, the tactics of Mr. Cohen and ‘Abolish Slavery’ mislead the public and threaten the rights and safety of sex workers and survivors of human trafficking.” Read more….