Bipartisan support for victims of human trafficking

Human trafficking victims’ advocates have hailed Illinois' action as a major step toward combatting human trafficking.

In January 2019, new laws took effect in Illinois that provide creative relief to human trafficking victims. These laws expand victims’ ability to bring civil lawsuits against their trafficker and provide financial incentives to cooperate with police investigations of human traffickers.

The Illinois General Assembly amended its Code of Civil Procedure to expand civil litigation rights for human trafficking victims. The new law states that human trafficking victims can file a civil claim against their trafficker for up to 10 years from the time they are initially trafficked or from the time they are freed from their trafficker. If the victim is a minor at the time of trafficking, the 10-year statute of limitations period does not begin until the victim has reached the age of 18.

This change represents a notable improvement for human trafficking victims, as many are not ready to pursue legal action against their trafficker until a significant period of time after their victimization. Due to the nature and extent of the physical or emotional abuse suffered by many human trafficking victims, an extended statute of limitations period allows victims more time to heal and rebuild their lives before potentially losing the opportunity to seek civil justice against their trafficker.

The new Illinois law also expands the universe of plaintiffs eligible to bring civil claims against human traffickers. Traditionally, only those directly injured by the trafficking offense, i.e. the victim, would be able to bring a lawsuit against the trafficker. However, based on the new law, a victim’s family member, legal guardian, court appointee, victim advocate, or other authorized agent can bring a civil claim on the victim’s behalf. A government entity responsible for enforcing the laws of the state may also pursue a civil action against the trafficker on behalf of the victim. Read the rest of the story by Cassondra (Cj) Murphy on Trafficking Matters.

Learn more about the legislation here and here.