Final Consultation will be conducted this evening
Over March and April 2014, the Singapore Inter-Agency Taskforce on Trafficking-in-Persons (TIP) and Member of Parliament for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, Mr Christopher de Souza, together with REACH, conducted three public consultation sessions on the proposed Private Member's Bill on the Prevention of Human Trafficking. These were held at the Ministry of Communication and Information Building (19 March), National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (26 March) and the Grassroots Club (8 April). These sessions complemented two other private dialogue sessions held by Mr de Souza with the public and interested stakeholders from civil society.
2 Altogether, we have canvassed feedback from more than 200 individuals from all walks of society. It includes civil society groups, academics, industry representatives, religious groups, grassroots community, students, and interested members of the public. We are heartened that many have expressed support for the proposed dedicated law and have given suggestions as to what it should encompass. The diversity represents keen public awareness in human trafficking and the need for a multi-faceted response to deal with this complex problem.
Summary of feedback
3 We have sought views about the key pillars that form the backbone of this dedicated law, such as scoping out the definition of human trafficking and addressing the various issues specific to labour trafficking, sex trafficking, child trafficking, and victim protection and support measures. A sampling of the wide variety of feedback received is seen below:
- Most participants felt that Singapore's definition of TIP should be closely aligned to international benchmarks. There was a need, however, to carefully define the degree of vulnerability/exploitation/coercion to be classified as TIP. Definitions and terms should also be nuanced to suit the local context.
- Many gave feedback that the Bill should go after all parties involved in the TIP chain (e.g. middlemen, facilitators and beneficiaries of TIP).
- Participants felt that prima facie consent of victims could not be taken at face value for TIP cases.
- Most agreed that the Bill should cover male victims, and be gender neutral.
- Tough penalties were necessary so as to be commensurate with the severity of the offences. Heavier penalties were warranted against traffickers of vulnerable groups to send a deterrent signal.
- Child victims should also benefit from a lower threshold of proof before an offence is made out against their perpetrators.
- A comprehensive suite of measures was suggested to protect and support victims. They include provision of shelter, counselling, identity protection during trial, and immunity from prosecution in deserving cases.
4 The fourth and final public consultation session will be held today, 15 April 2014, at Ulu Pandan Community Centre, which is symbolic of the Bill being a ground-up effort. More than 90 participants will be attending the session and Senior Minister of State for Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Home Affairs, Mr Masagos Zulkifli, will also be joining Mr de Souza and the Taskforce in the session.
5 We would like to thank all who have participated in this consultation process and for their invaluable feedback. We will consider all feedback as we finalise the Bill. Members of the public can still send their feedback via the REACH portal until 18 April, 5pm.
Mr Christopher de Souza and
Singapore Inter-Agency Taskforce on Trafficking-in-Persons