Couple first to be charged for labour trafficking under Prevention of Human Trafficking Act

Balakrishnan s/o Jaganathan and his wife each faces seven charges for "abusing their power as employers to harbour and exploit seven female Bangladeshi women".
Balakrishnan s/o Jaganathan and his wife each faces seven charges for "abusing their power as employers to harbour and exploit seven female Bangladeshi women".PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE -  A Singaporean man and his Nepalese wife became the first here to be charged for labour trafficking under the Prevention of Human Trafficking Act.

Balakrishnan s/o Jaganathan, 52 and his 29-year old wife Khema Bhatta each faces seven charges for "abusing their power as employers to harbour and exploit seven female Bangladeshi women", the Manpower Ministry said in a statement on Friday (May 20).

The women were performing artistes at Hindi music pub Taraana, where Balakrishnan was the director and his wife a manager.

If found guilty, the offender could be fined up to $100,000 with imprisonment of up to 10 years, and be liable to caning of up to six strokes of the cane.

MOM said it has taken necessary steps to ensure that the seven Bangladeshi women are provided with the appropriate care. Its investigation officers are visiting them regularly to check on their physical and mental well-being, it added.

Professional counsellors have also been engaged to look after the women's emotional needs. To help in their rehabilitation process, the ministry has facilitated the victims to gain interim employment under the Temporary Job Scheme.

The ministry said that Singapore remains committed to combating trafficking in persons.

It noted that the Singapore Inter-Agency Taskforce on Trafficking-in-Persons, launched a national approach against trafficking-in-persons this year. The taskforce is co-chaired by the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Manpower.