The Trafficking Research Project monitors the development of anti-trafficking initiatives by the Singapore Government. We made several submissions to Government and facilitated the NGO Forum on Human Trafficking. We reiterate our commendation of the Government’s initial engagement with civil society and emphasis on partnership as a cornerstone of the National Plan of Action against Human Trafficking (NPA), particularly during the consultation period in March 2012.
However, we are concerned about the noticeable silence regarding the implementation of the NPA, especially as we are now over halfway through the first projected year of action. This silence does not seem consistent with the previous commitment to transparency taken by Government on this issue and does little to support the idea that Singapore is serious about addressing human trafficking.
Specifically, we are not aware of any action being undertaken regarding the following 2012 deliverables outlined in the NPA:
• Inaugural Self-Assessment report and funding needs assessment
• Definition of TIP offences, training program, public education and outreach
• Development of case referral procedures and training to operationalize them
• Stronger TIP investigation and prosecution processes
• Procedures to identify victims
• Enhancing the victim care system
These elements form a solid foundation for anti-human trafficking activity in Singapore. While we hope the Government is enacting crucial changes, there is a lack of visible information indicating action. Our impression of the approach taken by the Singapore Government was that the NPA itself functioned as a deterrent – showing the world that human trafficking would not be tolerated.
Openness about the process by which the NPA is developed and implemented is important in upholding the principles of transparency and accountability. Moreover, the extensive consultation process and the accompanying engagement with civil society led to the raised assurance that civil society expertise on this issue would have a role to play. If the Government is committed to developing a holistic response to this issue, the role of its partners in this process is vital. We have advocated that the Taskforce consider formalizing its relationship with civil society organizations as we believe this approach will cement the Government’s commitment to partnership. Such an approach will also enhance Government’s previously stated objectives in developing a robust response to human trafficking.
Therefore, we underscore the importance of formalized, regular engagement with the Taskforce to develop and implement the details of the high‐level strategy set out in the NPA in a transparent and collaborative manner.