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Singapore on "Tier 2" in human trafficking report

Singapore has been placed on Tier 2 of the US Department of State's 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report.

SINGAPORE: Singapore has been placed on Tier 2 of the US Department of State's 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report.

There are four tiers that countries can be placed on --Tier 1, which is the highest ranking; Tier 2; a Tier 2 "Watchlist", and Tier 3.

The Singapore Inter-Agency Taskforce on Trafficking in Persons said in a statement on Saturday that it will be studying the report in detail.

In its report, the US Department of State said that as a Tier 2 country, the Singapore government does not comply with its minimum standards for eliminating trafficking, but is making significant efforts to do so.

For example, the report noted that Singapore imposed stringent sentences on two convicted sex traffickers, and developed an improved mechanism for case referral among government, civil society and foreign embassies.

However, the report pointed out that no labour traffickers were prosecuted or convicted, and that the Singapore government continued to face difficulties in identifying and building evidence in trafficking cases.

Among the recommendations for Singapore in the report are to increase the investigation and prosecution of trafficking offences, increase specialised training for frontline officers in the identification of sex and labour trafficking, and provide funding to all non-governmental shelters giving protection to potential trafficking victims.

In its response, the Singapore Inter-Agency Taskforce said that while it acknowledges and welcomes the US' efforts to produce an annual report highlighting the important global issue, it continues to hold the view that the US needs to adopt a more objective methodology in future editions.

"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 added.

The taskforce also highlighted the significant progress made in implementing the National Plan of Action to combat trafficking in persons through prevention, prosecution, protection and partnership.

A key priority will also be working with Member of Parliament Christopher de Souza on a Private Member's Bill on Prevention of Human Trafficking, which will empower agencies to deal with such crimes more effectively.

The bill will be tabled in Parliament by this year.

The taskforce said that it will also continue to work with partners to raise public awareness, facilitate victim reporting, refine investigation processes and enhance the provision of care to victims.

This is the fourth consecutive year that Singapore has been placed on Tier 2.

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