Trafficking in Singapore

Source control restrictions are obstacles to crime reporting

By Tam Peck Hoon, Campaign Manager, Stoptraffickingsg

The following is a response to a letter by the Taskforce Against Trafficking in Persons in Singapore, http://www.straitstimes.com/forum/letters-in-print/measures-in-place-to-help-trafficked-victims

We thank the Taskforce for affirming its commitment to fighting human trafficking in the letter, “Measures in place to help trafficked victims” (18 August 2016).

Though it is acknowledged that trafficked victims are vulnerable individuals who require comprehensive and sustained assistance to rebuild their lives, the current victim support by the state which provides mainly for accomodation and access to a temporary job scheme remains less than adequate. The weak emphasis placed on vicitm support in The Prevention of Human Trafficking Act does not reflect it’s true place in combating trafficking.

Further, we are concerned that the Taskforce takes the view that source controls are in place “so as not to encourage more trafficking attempts.” This assumes that migrants who are not trafficked will claim victim status when they are not even though there is little evidence to support this.

On the other hand, victims have little incentive to enter Singapore through illegal means given the ease of application through legal channels via employment agencies and brokers. Provisions of shelter, counseling and short term employment are not attractive benefits compared to someone who is gainfully employed.

Moreover, the state can implement a system to assess and identify genuine victims. This has been implemented successfully in many other countries. Each suspected case deserves to be considered seriously given the seriousness of the offence.

Victims often find themselves deceived into jobs where their nature and conditions are different to what have been promised. Some are compelled to work without a valid work pass or without complying with work pass conditions. Indebtedness and coercion prevent them from leaving their exploitative situation. The fact that they play no willing part in their exploitation underlies their victimisation.

Source control restrictions are unnecessary as it is an obstacle to victims reporting against their traffickers.

For example, migrant domestic workers who are trafficked are not allowed to change sectors should they wish to seek temporary employment while assisting in investigations.  Many domestic workers find it difficult to be re-employed in domestic work since they have been traumatized by an abusive employer before.

As Singapore aspires to be a caring society, our social policies must evolve to protect the vulnerable and marginalized members of our community. #stoptraffickingsg

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