Measures in place to help trafficked victims

The Singapore Inter-Agency Taskforce on Trafficking in Persons was formed in 2010 to combat human trafficking in Singapore ("Provide better protection for victims of human trafficking" by the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics; Aug 3).

In November 2014, the Prevention of Human Trafficking Act was passed, followed by Singapore's accession to the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children in September last year.

Singapore also ratified the Asean Convention against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children in January this year.

These show that Singapore is serious in its fight against human trafficking.

We recognise that trafficked victims are a group of extremely vulnerable individuals. Thus, the Prevention of Human Trafficking Act has put in place a regime to protect and support them, as well as to encourage the reporting of human-trafficking offences.

For instance, the Act protects the identities of informers of human-trafficking offences, and allows for in-camera hearings of trials involving such offences.

There are also protection measures in place under various other pieces of legislation, including the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) are aware of the plight and anxieties of these victims, and do not prosecute such victims for acts which they are compelled to commit as a direct consequence of being trafficked victims, unless there are compelling factors.

We also have the discretion to provide a range of additional support measures, customised to the victims' needs. For example, victims are granted special passes to remain in Singapore while their cases are being processed.

During case investigation, we also facilitate the placement of victims who are willing and able to work, in suitable employment in Singapore. This allows them to remain gainfully employed and maintain an income.

Victims are required to meet prevailing work pass requirements, including source controls, so as not to encourage more trafficking attempts. However, we exercise flexibility in exceptional circumstances. Non-governmental organisations may surface specific deserving cases to MHA and MOM for consideration.

The task force remains committed to combating human trafficking, and will continually strengthen our regime against such offences.

Lee Pak Sing

Divisional Director

Workplace Policy and Strategy Division

Ministry of Manpower

Co-chairman, Singapore Inter-Agency Taskforce on Trafficking in Persons

Marvin Sim

Senior Director (Joint Ops Group)

Ministry of Home Affairs

Co-chairman, Singapore Inter-Agency Taskforce on Trafficking in Persons

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 18, 2016, with the headline 'Measures in place to help trafficked victims'. Print Edition | Subscribe