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Media Digest: “Beef up Bill to better aid trafficked persons” – Straits Times, 24 Oct 2014

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The Straits Times’ report on the StopTraffickingSG press conference rightly pointed out that the Prevention of Human Trafficking Bill is only

“a very good first step’ but not comprehensive”

because it does not address the critical needs of trafficked victims that will empower them to report their cases and testify against their traffickers. StopTraffickingSG calls for the inclusion of victims’ rights in the Bill. We

“want(s) victims to be shielded from prosecution for immigration infractions and given the right to continue working while their cases are being dealt with.”

However, MP Christopher De Souza has stated his preference for “a case-by-case basis” approach to granting trafficked victims work and immunity against prosecution as undocumented migrants. StopTraffickingSG believes the case by case approach is not a good one considering that the criteria for consideration of each case is not clear.

StopTraffickingSG also

called for a clearer definition of what constitutes a human trafficking case.”

The fear that enshrining victims’ rights in the Bill will lead to the undesirable situation of opening the floodgate to victims was addressed by Jolovan Wham, Executive Director, HOME who was quoted,

“There is concern that if the Bill is too victim-centric, people may identify themselves as victims.

(But) we cannot deny rights to a majority because we are afraid that a minority would identify themselves as victims when they are not.”

Also as Mr John Gee, head of research at TWC2, pointed out

“We don’t want people to come forward and then feel that they are going to be thrown out of the country.”

StopTraffickingSG thinks the fear of the spectre of migrants claiming to be trafficked and thus opening a ‘floodgate’ of victims is unfounded. The Trafficking In Persons Interagency Taskforce has in place processes and procedures to evaluate each case of trafficking submitted to them.

Should there be a ‘floodgate’ of victims identified through the processes and procedures, then we should be concerned that the problem of human trafficking is more widespread than we have known, and that more measures need to be in place to outreach to them and help them.

Singapore has legal channels for migrants who want to get jobs here. It begs the question of why a migrant would risk being deceived, physically, psychologically and emotionally coerced – in short, trafficked – to enter Singapore for work?

For the full news article, pl go to http://news.asiaone.com/news/singapore/beef-bill-better-aid-trafficked-persons #stoptraffickingsg

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