Wednesday, 20 June 2012 10:57
Singapore Inter-Agency Taskforce's official statement in response to the 2012 US State Department's Trafficking in Persons Report
- The Singapore Inter-agency Taskforce on Trafficking in Persons (TIP) notes that Singapore has maintained its Tier 2 position in the US Department of State's TIP Report 2012. While the taskforce notes some inaccuracies and misrepresentations in the report, it is a balanced report.
- In the past year, the Singapore Inter-agency Taskforce on TIP, co-chaired by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), and consisting of representatives from the Singapore Police Force (SPF), Immigrations & Checkpoints Authority (ICA), Ministry of Community Development, Youth & Sports (MCYS), Ministry of Health (MOH), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC), have stepped up efforts to respond proactively to TIP on our shores (see Annex for Taskforce efforts in 2011). The Taskforce recognises Singapore’s allure as a potential destination for human trafficking syndicates, and the need for a robust response involving coordination between government agencies and partnerships with other governments and non-governmental stakeholders.
- Singapore’s response to TIP is based on our 4 Ps strategy (Prevention, Prosecution, Protection and Partnership).
a. Prevention: To reduce the incidence of TIP through early detection and reporting of potential cases and the raising of awareness of TIP amongst key stakeholders not limiting to government officials, employers, workers and the general public.
b. Prosecution: To enhance the effectiveness of investigation and prosecution of TIP cases, and pursue commensurate criminal penalties and deterrent sentencing against perpetrators in serious cases, consistent with local laws.
c. Protection: To enhance the management of victims through proactive identification of victims and the setting up of a protection and care system supportive of victims’ needs.
d. Partnership: To create strong partnerships with foreign governments, businesses, media, academia and civil society so as to maximise resources in combating TIP.
- In 2011, the Taskforce started work on a National Plan of Action (NPA) based on these 4 Ps, which would serve as our holistic strategy to respond to TIP threats. The NPA was crafted after intensive consultation with stakeholders, and launched on 21 March this year by Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Minister of State for National Development and Manpower (his speech can be found at here). The NPA contains 31 initiatives and is a roadmap for concerted action from 2012 to 2015. It will strengthen current policies and systems, as well as develop new ones to address current gaps.
- The Taskforce’s current focus is to implement the deliverables set out in the NPA, including reviewing the adequacy of existing legislation in tackling TIP crimes. One immediate task is to build victim identification capabilities in government agencies so that our frontline officers are able to identify potential trafficking victims and that our processes are able to appropriately handle these cases. Another challenge is that the concept of ‘human trafficking’ is not widely understood, or misunderstood, in Singapore. For a case to be classified as sex or labour trafficking, it must involve the act, the means and be clearly for the purpose of exploitation. While certain elements of a case (e.g. incurring high levels of debt) may be indicative of trafficking in persons, it may not be sufficient. We will also continue to work with interested stakeholders to raise public awareness of TIP to businesses and the general public so that more people can play a part in fighting this crime.
- Singapore has shown that it takes a serious view of TIP and its related crimes, first with the setting up of the Inter-agency Taskforce in 2010, and then with the launch of our first NPA in March 2012. We look forward to continued cooperation with NGOs, embassies, academia, the private sector and the general public as we implement our NPA initiatives.
- As a final point, while we welcome the United States' efforts to produce an annual report to highlight this important global issue, we remain of the view that the United States needs to adopt a more objective methodology in future editions of its TIP Report. This will ensure that a consistent, transparent, and measurable framework is applied to all countries and a better understanding of the different legal structures and domestic contexts of countries ranked in the report is taken into account.
Annex - Efforts made by Taskforce in 2011