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Enforcement Against Immigration Offenders and Publicity Efforts

1 MHA continued with its tough enforcement against immigration offenders in 2000. In 2000, Singapore Police Force (SPF) and Singapore Immigration and Registration (SIR) arrested 16,489 immigration offenders, comprising both illegal immigrants and overstayers. This represents a 2.3% decrease from the 16,885 immigration offenders arrested in 1999. More cases involving the smuggling of illegal immigrants were detected last year compared to 1999.

2 At the land checkpoints, 40 traffickers were arrested last year, as compared to 27 traffickers arrested in 1999, an increase of 48%. However, the number of illegal immigrants detected being smuggled into Singapore through the land checkpoints decreased from 197 in 1999 to 81 in 2000.

3 No traffickers were arrested at our ferry terminals. Out at sea, 16 'tekongs' or boat operators were arrested. This was a 100% increase over 1999, where 8 boat operators were arrested. The number of illegal immigrants caught being smuggled into Singapore by sea increased from 153 in 1999 to 200 in 2000.

4 In 2000, SPF successfully crippled 2 major syndicates that were involved in smuggling illegal immigrants into Singapore and providing them with forged documents to secure employment. 17 syndicate members and 215 immigration offenders were arrested in 2 separate operations.

5 MHA has adopted, and will continue to adopt stringent checks at our air, land and sea border entry points to detect the smuggling of illegal immigrants into Singapore. Specifically, the following actions have been taken at the entry points to counter the problem of human smuggling:

a) More Intensive Checks
The expanded facilities at the new Woodlands Checkpoint have enabled immigration officers to conduct more thorough checks on persons and vehicles to deter illegal entry and departure through the land checkpoints, without adversely affecting traffic flow.

b) Enhanced Intelligence Capability
Intensified SPF and SIR intelligence gathering have resulted in the higher number of arrests of traffickers operating across the land checkpoints.

c) Sea and Coastal Enforcement
The Police Coast Guard (PCG) has stepped up both sea and shore patrols to detect smugglers who attempt to smuggle in illegal immigrants by sea. PCG has acquired new high-speed patrol boats with better maneuverability and fitted with the latest surveillance and digital communications equipment.

d) Joint Operations
Within the Home Team, SPF and SIR have worked closely on enforcement over and beyond intelligence sharing. The joint operations conducted extended to enforcement at sea. This close coordination has made for more effective and efficient ground operations.

e) Technology
MHA will employ new technology to detect such attempts at smuggling illegal immigrants. Specifically, SIR is acquiring mobile x-ray machines for the land checkpoints to detect illegal immigrants hiding in vehicles. PCG has already deployed state-of-the-art radar surveillance systems and electro-optic cameras at strategic locations to detect illegal landings at night.

f) Deterrent Messages
In addition to rigorous enforcement, MHA has also constantly sent out deterrent messages through targeted public education. For example, SIR distributes pamphlets in 4 languages to foreigners coming through our land checkpoints. These pamphlets highlight the stiff penalties for trafficking illegal immigrants.

6 SIR sent out a notice to all Housing and Development Board (HDB) flat owners to educate them on the need to check the status of prospective foreign tenants when letting out their premises in end April 2000. SIR sent out a similar notice to all home-owners (both HDB and private) at the end of 2000 together with the property tax assessment forms.

7 Apart from their hotlines, the Ministry of Manpower and SIR have launched a facility on their websites for landlords to make enquiries on the status of their tenants. In addition to co-ordinating the rigorous enforcement action and publicity efforts, MHA HQ worked closely with SPF and SIR to draw up the prosecution guidelines for SPF and SIR to assist them set down consistent recommendations when referring harbouring cases to the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC). Only those who are clearly negligent or have intentionally committed the act of harbouring immigration offenders would be prosecuted.

Last updated on 16 Jun 2007
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