Last Updated: Friday, 19 September 2014, 13:55 GMT

U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - Singapore

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 5 June 2006
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - Singapore, 5 June 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4680d8aec.html [accessed 20 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Singapore (Tier 1)

Singapore is a destination country for women and girls trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Some women and girls from Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and the People's Republic of China (P.R.C.) who travel to Singapore voluntarily for prostitution or non-sexual work are deceived or coerced into sexual servitude. A small minority of foreign domestic workers in Singapore face seriously abusive labor conditions that amount to involuntary servitude, a severe form of trafficking.

The Government of Singapore fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Over the last year, the Singaporean Government continued to address abuses of foreign domestic workers and made significant progress in its efforts to combat trafficking for sexual exploitation. In March 2006, Singapore's parliament approved legislation that, when enacted, will criminalize the offense of child sex tourism committed by Singaporean citizens in other countries and the commercial sexual exploitation of persons under the age of 18, regardless of consent. Singapore does not have a specific anti-trafficking law, but its criminal code criminalizes all forms of trafficking. Singapore's Ministry of Manpower (MOM) also implemented new regulations to address abuses of foreign domestic workers. Future government action should focus on implementing a systematic screening of at-risk populations – such as migrant workers and foreign women in prostitution – in order to identify and care for victims of trafficking.

Prosecution

The Singaporean Government made clear progress in its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts in 2005. Although the Singaporean police investigated 28 cases of possible trafficking during the reporting period, none led to a trafficking-specific prosecution. The police used other statutes, however, to prosecute and convict 18 persons involved in crimes of trafficking related to some of the 28 cases. The government increased its efforts to curb abuses of foreign domestic workers. The government, through the MOM, implemented new regulations for employment agencies, including higher penalties for holding an employee's passport, a new licensing scheme that requires a background check on potential employers, an exam on laws related to employment agencies for agency directors, and a demerit system used to track agencies' infractions and revoke licenses. A small number of Singapore's estimated 140,000 foreign domestic workers continued to experience abusive employment conditions that amount to involuntary servitude, but MOM increased enforcement against abusive employers and resolved many other cases through mediation. Laws against forced or coerced prostitution carry sentences of up to 10 years' imprisonment, a fine, and caning; laws against rape, which have been used against traffickers, carry a penalty of up to 20 years' imprisonment, a fine, and caning. The government tracks the number of trafficking-related prosecutions, repatriations of foreign women and girls who are suspected sex workers, and complaints from foreign domestic workers. In 2005, the Singaporean Government reported 76 prosecutions for violations of national prostitution laws; eight of these involved the commercial sexual exploitation of minors. There is no evidence that government officials are complicit in trafficking.

Protection

The government provided adequate assistance to trafficking victims in the last year. The government generally tolerates consensual prostitution, but outlaws any form of third-party involvement, such as pimping, and actively works to eliminate organized crime in the vice trade. Through increased law enforcement efforts in red-light and entertainment districts, Singaporean police were able to identify a larger number of trafficking victims among the 3,220 foreign women in prostitution detained in 2005 – a total of 83 victims, including 48 minor girls. The Singaporean Government did not generally provide government shelter for trafficking victims, but through its Ministry of Community Development, Youth, and Sports (MCYS), the government funded the provision of shelter at local NGO facilities, and provided counseling, health care, physical security, and skills development programs for abused foreign domestic workers and victims of sexual exploitation. Some victims may be referred to shelters run by their embassies. There are no NGOs in Singapore that focus exclusively on trafficking, but there are several that are working against sexual exploitation and abuse of women and children, as well as a number exclusively focused on assisting foreign workers and seeking the enactment of enhanced labor protections.

Prevention

The Singaporean Government substantially improved efforts to raise awareness of trafficking in 2005. Aware of the trafficking potential in the growing marriage-brokering of Vietnamese women, the government in 2005 formed an inter-agency task force to examine this phenomenon with a focus on ways of regulating it more closely in order to prevent trafficking and exploitation. The MOM launched an information campaign to raise awareness among foreign workers, including domestic workers, of their rights and the resources available to them by printing such information and hotline numbers on prepaid phone cards. MCYS has launched, in cooperation with local NGOs, a public awareness campaign aimed at stopping child sex tourism. There were no specific anti-trafficking campaigns directed at the use of fraud or coercion to recruit foreign women as prostitutes. Singapore has no national action plan to address trafficking.

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