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Govt taking human trafficking more seriously, but more work needed: HOME

Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME), a migrant workers advocacy group, has called for greater collaboration and exchange of information to deal with human trafficking.

SINGAPORE: Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME), a migrant workers advocacy group, has responded to the latest United States Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, concurring with the finding that Singapore has some way to go to meet international standards to eliminate human trafficking.

In a statement on Sunday (June 22), it also acknowledged that the Government has started to take trafficking more seriously and that this is a positive sign.

Noting that the report found disagreement between the Government and civil society on whether specific cases amounted to trafficking, HOME called for greater collaboration and exchange of information, so trafficked victims can be more effectively assisted and perpetrators brought to justice.

While HOME has referred cases with “strong trafficking indicators” to the Government, some have been rejected. “The reasons for not classifying such cases as trafficking are rarely disclosed,” the group said.

The TIP report, released last Friday, placed Singapore in the Tier 2 category, which is for countries that do not meet minimum international standards for the elimination of human trafficking, but have made significant efforts in this area.

On Saturday, the Singapore Inter-agency Taskforce on Trafficking in Persons said it would study the report in detail. It reiterated that while it welcomed US efforts in highlighting the issue, the US needs to adopt a more objective methodology. “This will ensure that a consistent, transparent and measurable standard is applied to all countries, taking into account the different legal structures and domestic contexts of countries covered in the report,” it said.

HOME noted that measures ensuring the rights of trafficked victims fall short of internationally-recognised standards. “For example, the right to decent work, compensation, legal aid, psychological and social support services is not guaranteed,” it said.

“We are also deeply concerned that trafficked victims are being penalised for immigration and work-related offences. Without an effective victim-protection system, it is highly unlikely that trafficked migrants will file complaints and cooperate with the authorities.”

It suggested abolishing policies that encourage trafficking and forced labour, such as restrictions to job mobility and the S$5,000 security bond for Work Permit holders.

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