More than 300 views received on proposed human trafficking law: Taskforce

Member of Parliament Christopher de Souza (centre) speaking on March 19, 2014 at a panel discussion during a dialogue on the Bill to prevent human trafficking. More than 300 people have given their views on a proposed human trafficking law and their
Member of Parliament Christopher de Souza (centre) speaking on March 19, 2014 at a panel discussion during a dialogue on the Bill to prevent human trafficking. More than 300 people have given their views on a proposed human trafficking law and their suggestions will be considered when the new law is tabled in Parliament later this year, said the taskforce overseeing this on Sunday. -- ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

More than 300 people have given their views on a proposed human trafficking law and their suggestions will be considered when the new law is tabled in Parliament later this year, said the taskforce overseeing this on Sunday. Those who gave their views included representatives from civil society groups, religious bodies and students.

Their suggestions included how labour and sex trafficking should be defined and how human trafficking victims should be helped, said Member of Parliament Christopher de Souza and the Inter-Agency Taskforce on Trafficking-in-Persons in a joint statement.

The taskforce noted that there was the consistent view that the proposed Bill should be closely aligned to international benchmarks. The Bill should cover both perpetrators as well as abettors and facilitators.

"We will adopt the UN Palermo Protocol's definition and criminalise persons living on or trading in the earnings of trafficked persons. We will also continue our efforts to keep the vice situation in Singapore under control," said the statement.

The taskforce also highlighted that most respondents agreed that the Bill should do more than just provide enforcement levers and should also contain sufficient measures to protect and support victims of trafficking as well. These measures may include establishing places of safety, providing for in-camera court proceedings, and ensuring access to counselling and temporary shelter.

The Bill will also provide adequate powers to ground officers of various law enforcement agencies to effectively combat trafficking, added the statement. Training and response protocols are also being strengthened at the intra-agency and inter-agency levels, as part of the Singapore National Plan of Action, said the taskforce.

Mr de Souza, who is an MP for the Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, is spearheading a Private Member's Bill, a law that is proposed by an MP instead of the Government, against human trafficking and he has the Government's backing,

The new law is expected to be tabled in the House by November this year.