Last Updated: Monday, 22 September 2014, 18:59 GMT

U.S. Department of State 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report - Singapore

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 12 June 2007
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report - Singapore, 12 June 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/467be3d7c.html [accessed 22 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 2)

Singapore is a destination country for women and girls trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. A small number of foreign domestic workers in Singapore face seriously abusive labor conditions that amount to involuntary servitude. Some women from Thailand, the Philippines, the People's Republic of China (P. R. C. ), and Indonesia who travel to Singapore voluntarily for prostitution or other work are deceived or coerced into sexual servitude. Some Singaporean men travel to countries in the region for child sex tourism.

The Government of Singapore does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Singapore demonstrated a clear commitment to combating trafficking, particularly in the area of law enforcement and in instituting new measures to address abuses of foreign domestic workers. With the exceptions noted below, its laws address all forms of trafficking. The Parliament should approve proposed amendments to the Penal Code that would criminalize prostitution involving a minor under the age of 18, extend extra-territorial jurisdiction over Singaporean citizens and permanent residents who purchase or solicit sexual services from minors overseas, and make organizing or promoting child sex tours a criminal offense.

Prosecution

The Government of Singapore continued its law enforcement efforts to combat trafficking in persons in 2006. Singapore does not have a specific anti-trafficking law, but its Penal Code criminalizes most forms of trafficking. The government does not criminalize the use of 16- and 17-year-old children in prostitution, but the proposed Penal Code amendments will eliminate this statutory gap. Labor trafficking is prohibited through multiple sections of the Penal Code, the Employment Agency Rules, and the Employment of Foreign Workers Act. Penalties prescribed for sex trafficking, including imprisonment, fines, and caning, are sufficiently stringent, though less than the statutory maximum for rape. In the first nine months of 2006, 23 employers were prosecuted and convicted for abusing their foreign domestic workers. In one case, an employer was sentenced to nine months in jail for scalding her maid and hitting her with a clothes hanger. In February 2007, an employer was sentenced to 21 months' imprisonment for physically abusing her domestic servant. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) investigates complaints by foreign workers about pay or working conditions, and first attempts to resolve problems through mediation and then enforcement action. In August 2006, a father and son were fined SGD 20,000 each after they pled guilty to failing to pay the salaries of workers at their now bankrupt construction firm. The government maintains effective border and immigration controls and there is no evidence that government officials are complicit in trafficking.

Protection

The Singaporean government demonstrated modest efforts to provide assistance and protection to trafficking victims. The Ministry of Community Development, Youth, and Sports (MCYS) 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. The government encourages victims of trafficking to participate in the investigation of traffickers, and provides foreign victims of serious crimes with temporary immigration status that allows them to stay until the need for testimony is over. Singapore does not otherwise provide a legal alternative to removal for victims who may face hardship or retribution in source countries. Victims are generally not jailed or prosecuted. The MOM has granted some victims of trafficking the right to seek employment and work permits. Singaporean authorities refer victims of trafficking to shelters run by NGOs or foreign embassies. The MCYS in 2006 encouraged one organization to submit a proposal to establish a shelter and agreed that the government would provide the facility. The MOM runs a hotline for domestic workers.

Prevention

The Singaporean government increased efforts to raise awareness among foreign workers and employers in 2006. The MOM continued and expanded its information campaign that targets foreign workers, including domestics, to inform them of their rights and the resources available to them. The MOM prints information on employees' rights and police hotline numbers for domestic workers on prepaid phone cards and in October 2006 started a newsletter that is mailed directly to foreign domestic workers that includes information on rights and responsibilities. The MOM also distributes an information booklet to employers of foreign domestic workers that explains their rights and criminal penalties that may be and have been applied against employers who abuse their domestic servants. In November 2006, MOM launched a program of randomly interviewing foreign domestic workers working in Singapore for the first time. The interviews enable MOM to determine how well they have adjusted to their working conditions and to reinforce workers' knowledge of their rights, responsibilities, and work place safety. Singapore has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.

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