- Mr Christopher de Souza, Member of Parliament for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, and the Singapore Inter-Agency Taskforce on Trafficking-in-Persons (TIP), are working with REACH to seek feedback from the public for the proposed Private Member’s Bill on the Prevention of Human Trafficking in Singapore.
- In November 2013, Mr de Souza announced his intent to introduce a Private Member’s Bill on the Prevention of Human Trafficking. This Bill would be a dedicated piece of legislation to criminalise trafficking-in-persons for the purpose of sexual exploitation, forced labour and exploitation by the removal of organs. It would also provide the authorities with suitable levers to deal with the TIP issue. The Taskforce has since been working closely with Mr de Souza on the Bill, which is aligned with the Taskforce’s efforts to constantly review our laws relating to human trafficking.
Objectives of the Bill
- Currently, TIP-related crimes are covered under various legislations such as the Women’s Charter, and the Children and Young Persons Act. However, as these laws were enacted for different purposes and at different times, they do not address TIP as a specific phenomenon. This can result in gaps and inconsistencies as to how we deal with TIP.
- Having dedicated legislation for the crime of TIP will allow us to have a holistic framework for TIP, adopt consistent definitions and penalties, and deal with TIP offences squarely. We will also be able to use this legislation to empower agencies with necessary intervention levers to combat TIP offences.
- The proposed legislation will cover various forms of TIP such as sex trafficking, labour trafficking or exploitation by the removal of organs. Overall, the Bill is based on four key principles:
a. It serves as a deterrent piece of legislation. Penalties should adequately reflect the severity of trafficking offences.
b. It offers greater protection to victims and is gender neutral. Both men and women should be considered victims if in the same situation.
c. It ensures that the consent of the victim will not be an impediment to enforcement. Even if the victim agrees to being exploited, the perpetrator could still be taken to task if the elements of TIP are present.
d. It takes action against acts of trafficking that occur within Singapore (even if a trafficked person only transits through Singapore) and acts of trafficking perpetuated by Singaporeans overseas.
- We would like to seek the public’s feedback on the proposed Bill via REACH and through public consultation sessions, the first of which was conducted today.
- Members of public can access the public consultation document1 through the REACH portal. They can send in their feedback through these channels from 19 March, 6.00 pm, to 18 April, 6.00 pm:
• Email to: TIP_Bill@mha.gov.sg;
• Post to:
Attn: Joint Operations Management, Joint Operations Division (TIP Bill)
Ministry of Home Affairs
New Phoenix Park
28 Irrawaddy Road
- Mr de Souza and the Taskforce will also be holding public consultation sessions in March and April 2014 to seek feedback from key stakeholders such as non-governmental organisations, voluntary welfare organisations, civil society organisations, businesses, students and academia. Members of public who are interested to participate in the open-to-public sessions on 26 March 2014, 8 April 2014 and 15 April 2014 can register by emailing their names and contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Singapore Inter-Agency Taskforce on Trafficking-in-Persons
The Singapore Inter-Agency Taskforce on Trafficking in Persons was established in 2010 in recognition of the threat of Trafficking in Persons (TIP) in Singapore. Co-chaired by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the Taskforce includes representatives from the Singapore Police Force (SPF), Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA), Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), Ministry of Health (MOH), Ministry of Law (MinLaw), Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC). The aim of the Taskforce is to implement holistic, co-ordinated strategies to combat TIP more effectively.
1 Please refer to Annex for the full public consultation document.