A bill that would allow human trafficking victims to recover damages and other relief was signed into law on Wednesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The new law also amends the current human trafficking law that expands the statute of limitations from 10 years to 15 years after the victimization has occurred.
"Human trafficking is one of the most abhorrent crimes a person can commit,” Cuomo (D) said. “Victims of these heinous acts deserve swift criminal and civil justice executed in a manner that respects and adapts to the mental trauma they have experienced. No longer will victims of human trafficking be forced to cover the financial costs that accompany taking their traffickers to court. This legislation ensures that survivors are not left financially strained while they work to recover mentally and physically. New York stands with victims of human trafficking and applauds them on their bravery in confronting their attackers so that others may be spared from these unfathomable experiences."
A lawsuit by the victim can sometimes be impracticable when the person is a minor or lacks the legal capacity to make decisions, which can make a narrow statute of limitations difficult to overcome. And there are also cultural and language barriers as well as isolation that can make seeking justice difficult for victims as well.
The bill was backed by Sen. James Sanders and Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi.
"Although this law will not take away the deep-rooted pain and emotional scars sustained by victims of human trafficking, at least it will give them expanded opportunities for some closure and compensation towards making them whole and moving on with their lives," Sanders said.
"Nothing can undo or make right the experience of survivors of human trafficking," Hevesi said. "However, this new law will allow for some form of remuneration and pursuit of justice should survivors seek it."