The Singapore Inter-agency Taskforce on Trafficking in Persons (TIP) has reviewed the US Department of State (DOS)'s TIP Report 2013.
2. While the DOS TIP Report has generally captured Singapore's key TIP efforts, we note that it continues to present inaccuracies and misrepresentations that have arisen from the lack of an objective methodology to take into account laws and domestic context in other countries that are different from the United States.
3. Singapore remains fully committed in our fight against TIP as we believe that this is the right thing to do to safeguard bona fide victims who fall prey to the scourge. This was our impetus to set up a dedicated Taskforce to coordinate a national effort against TIP, and the subsequent launch of a National Plan of Action (NPA) in 2012.
Key achievements in the past year
4. Singapore's NPA, which was developed in consultation with our partners, adopted a "4P" strategy to proactively combat TIP: Prevention, Prosecution, Protection and Partnership. Our efforts for 2012 had been guided by the initiatives laid out in the NPA and we were able to achieve all that we set out according to the schedule. Specifically, this includes securing a dedicated budget to fund various TIP initiatives, strengthening inter-agency coordination and heightening awareness of TIP amongst Government officials, workers and members of the public.
5. The Taskforce has increased the number of frontline officers and has sharpened their enforcement capabilities through training. We have also further enhanced our internal referral processes between enforcement agencies to expedite investigations. The emphases on training and referral processes are important as they create a strong foundation that empowers our frontline officers to accurately detect and swiftly deal with TIP cases in the pursuit of justice.
Focus for the years ahead
6. Singapore remains committed to combat human trafficking as we progressively implement our NPA initiatives in the coming years. We believe that our small geographical size and tough laws have generally, and will continue to, deter crime syndicates from operating in Singapore. In early January, the Taskforce announced the launch of a TIP Public Awareness Grant, to encourage more public education initiatives that would help raise public awareness of TIP crimes. Greater public awareness of TIP can facilitate early reporting of such incidents to the authorities. The Taskforce is in the midst of finalising the recipients of this grant, and will be announcing the recipients soon.
7. While we welcome the United States' efforts to produce an annual report to highlight this global issue, we continue to call on the DOS to adopt a more objective methodology to report countries' TIP efforts in future editions of its TIP Report. 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 highlighted in the report.
8. With or without the TIP Report, Singapore takes a serious view of TIP and its related issues. The Taskforce has built up the momentum and will continue to work closely with civil society organisations (CSOs) and other institutions to tackle this issue and deliver the NPA initiatives.
Annex - Efforts made by Taskforce in 2012.pdf