Trenton – In an effort to further combat human trafficking in New Jersey, the Senate Judiciary Committee today advanced a pair of bills sponsored by Senator Troy Singleton, Senator Vin Gopal, and Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz which would hold all those who benefit from human trafficking accountable, and increase research to prevent the disproportionate trafficking of women and children of color.
The first bill, S-1211, would authorize civil actions against entities who knowingly profit from human trafficking. Under the bill, a person may be subject to civil suits if they are aware of human trafficking and allow it to continue while financially benefitting from it.
“It is no secret that human trafficking occurs across our nation, and here in New Jersey. This is a deliberate and highly extensive crime that involves the participation of numerous entities,” said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington). “This legislation would allow victims and survivors to bring anyone who knowingly aids and profits from trafficking to justice. By expanding current law, we are giving power back to the survivors and their families.”
Under current law, any person injured as the result of a human trafficking offense may bring a civil suit against the actor and all those acting in concert with that actor. The measure would expand the current statute by allowing civil actions against any person who is aware of human trafficking offenses and allows them to continue while receiving a monetary benefit from the offense, or who maintains trafficking victims.
“Human trafficking is modern-day slavery that keeps some of our most vulnerable residents – most of whom are women and children – held captive physically, psychologically and emotionally,” said Senator Gopal (D-Monmouth). “Over 80 percent of human trafficking is classified as sex trafficking, which heavily relies on the use of hotels and motels. Current law fails to capture the entire scope of beneficiaries of this heinous crime. This legislation would rectify this to open the door for any party who knowingly profits off of human trafficking to be held accountable.”
The second bill, S-3301, would expand the duties of the Commission on Human Trafficking to study issues related to the trafficking of women and children of color, including the risk factors that make these groups especially vulnerable to such exploitation.
“Human trafficking is a stain on our society’s conscience and an affront to the ideals that we all hold to be sacred. This abhorrent crime targets the most vulnerable in our society and takes away their rights,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “Any form of trafficking whether forced labor or sex trafficking, must never be tolerated and we must remain steadfast in the fight to end human trafficking.”
The bill would direct the Commission to identify strategies to prevent and reduce the trafficking of women and children of color, enhance and facilitate the delivery of support services for such victims, and make recommendations for legislation.
The bills were released from Committee by a vote of 10-0 and 10-0, respectively.