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Monthly Archives: July 2013

Syndicated: organized crime and human trafficking

The mere mention of human trafficking gangs suggests a seedy, clandestine underbelly of organized international criminal syndicates focused on profiting from the exploitation of vulnerable individuals. The terms “gang”, “syndicate” and “organized crime group” are bandied about the anti-trafficking world on a regular basis as descriptors for those who undertake, facilitate and/or enable exploitation. But when interrogated, the terms become slightly opaque, perhaps challenging perceptions about the actors complicit in human trafficking. (more…)

A response to the United States Trafficking in Persons Report 2013: Singapore

The Trafficking Research Project (TTRP) has made a number of submissions to the Singapore Government on the issue of human trafficking. We monitor the development of anti-trafficking developments in Singapore, including initiatives by the Anti-Trafficking Taskforce and partners in the NGO Forum on Human Trafficking. As advocated in our submission, A Response To The United States Trafficking In Persons Report (2012) Specifically As It Relates To Singapore[1], we welcome the US State Department’s (DOS) TIP Report as a tool to assess how the Singapore Government addresses human trafficking. We acknowledge the role played by the report locally; namely its function as the only publicly available annual assessment of trafficking in Singapore.

We recognise the necessity for improvement in Singapore’s approach to, and implementation of, its anti-trafficking efforts. We also continue to have concerns about the methodology used in the development of the TIP report and the subsequent impact on the shape of anti-trafficking initiatives in Singapore, including the absence of a recommendation for local, contextual research. As such, our response is addressed to both the US State Department and the Singapore Government. (more…)

Making the cut: blacklisting in the UK

Blacklisting is rearing its ugly head again in the UK.  The Scottish Affairs Committee published its interim report in April on the, supposedly historical, practice of blacklisting in the construction industry.  Blacklisting in this context involved placing construction workers on a list because they were part of a union, undertook union activities or raised health and safety concerns.  This list was then circulated to potential employers, so they knew which workers to avoid employing.  In a number of cases, the information provided was wholly false.  What makes blacklisting significant is not only that it has taken such a long time for victims to access any kind of justice, but that so many questions remain unanswered and that, despite legislative and policy efforts to prevent it, the practice still seems to be a feature of life in the construction industry.  For example, allegations have surfaced in Scotland that 28 workers were recently sacked for trade union activity and raising basic health and safety concerns by BFK, a conglomerate of construction companies holding substantial public sector contracts that are believe to include one with Transport Scotland, which builds Scotland’s road network.    (more…)

Just deserts: victim compensation

Despite ample international, regional and local provisions for compensation, the provision of restitution for trafficked persons remains under-utilized. This undermines justice as well as potentially depriving much-needed financing for anti-trafficking efforts. A State’s focus on criminal prosecution may neglect important aspects of a victim-centered approach and without stringent, enforced penalties, may not even serve as an adequate deterrent. The former might include an emphasis on a victim as a key witness at trial, without taking into account livelihood concerns involved in an individual’s ability to participate (not being to generate an income, for instance). The latter may be expressed through the limited impact of the use of fines as punishment for those convicted for forced labor offences. For example, Paul Broadbent, Chief Executive of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) in the UK, highlighted:

We’d worked out the amount of money they’d made out of exploiting those people was way in excess of that fine […] so it’s actually worthwhile doing it on the off chance you’ll get caught, because when you do get caught and fined it’s absolutely a drop in the ocean compared with the money you’ve made. (more…)