07 July 2014
Written reply to Parliamentary Question on Singapore’s ranking in Trafficking in persons report
Assoc Prof Fatimah Lateef asked the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs (a) what is the Government’s response to Singapore’s continued position in Tier 2 of the 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report published by the US Department of State; and (b) whether the National Plan of Action proposed by the Singapore Inter-Agency Taskforce on Trafficking in Persons been able to mitigate some of the areas highlighted and what further action will be undertaken.
Written Reply by Mr Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister, Coordinating Minister for National Security and Minister for Home Affairs:
The United States (US) Government issues an annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, which benchmarks the various countries’ efforts in combating TIP to a set of minimum standards found in Section 108 of their Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act. The Report also categorises countries into one of four tiers based on the extent of their compliance with the US standards, and as assessed by the US.
The 2014 TIP Report has retained Singapore in Tier 2. Similar to previous years, it has shared observations and perceived gaps in our approach to prevent trafficking and protect victims within our borders.
While we acknowledge the efforts to produce an annual report to highlight this important global issue, we are of the view that the US needs to adopt an objective and robust methodology that ensures a consistent, transparent, and measurable standard is applied to all countries, and takes into account the different legal structures and domestic contexts of countries covered in the report.
Singapore takes a serious view of TIP crimes and has made significant progress in our fight against TIP. An inter-agency Taskforce was formed in 2010 to coordinate whole-of-government strategies to fight TIP. Since the launch of the National Plan of Action in 2012, much effort has been made to strengthen policies and systems along a four-pronged approach of Prevention, Prosecution, Protection and Partnerships.
For example, since December 2013, we have set up specialist investigation and prosecution teams to look into TIP cases. A case referral mechanism has been developed for civil society organisations to refer potential cases to the authorities. A Public Awareness Grant to support projects that raise awareness on TIP was also launched in June 2013.
A key initiative is Member of Parliament, Mr Christopher de Souza’s Private Member’s Bill on the Prevention of Human Trafficking. Government supports such a Bill, and we are working closely with him on it. When introduced, this piece of legislation will provide agencies with the necessary levers to deal with TIP crimes effectively.Singapore remains fully committed in our fight against TIP and will continue to push on with strategies mapped out in our National Plan of Action.