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A year in review: TTRP blog turns 2

The Trafficking Research Project has gone from strength to strength in our second year.  We have expanded our geographic scope to include the United States, gained high profile contributors and seen our blog “hits” increase substantially.  TTRP also launched our new logo, with credit and thanks to Alex Kim.  We continued to strategically define our organisational purpose and value, made a number of submissions to consultations and inquiries, were active participants in Singapore’s civil society forum on trafficking and monitored the development of legislation in a number of jurisdictions.

TTRP kicked off the year by responding to a call for submissions from the UK’s All Party Parliamentary Group on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade.  Treading well-worn ground, the inquiry sought to “assess the operation of the current legal settlement on prostitution in England and Wales”, our submission focused on highlighting the dangers of criminalising sex workers and the problems with the much lauded Swedish model.  We also critiqued the consultation process for the UK’s draft Modern Slavery Bill.  In Singapore, we highlighted our concerns about the State’s response to the riots in Little India, and commented on to the US Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report’s assessment of the Singapore’s approach to trafficking. (more…)

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Statement regarding the 8 December 2013 Little India riots

The Trafficking Research Project (TTRP) expresses concern about the government’s response to the riot that occurred in Little India, Singapore, on 8 December 2013. Notably, such social unrest is the first of its kind in four decades. As such, TTRP advocates that the time is ripe for a national reconsideration of both the immediate cause of the violence as well as the deep-seated inequality that shapes the treatment of migrant workers in Singapore.

The government’s response to the riot includes a targeted police presence in places migrants congregate (including dormitories) and a temporary ban on alcohol in Little India. A focus on criminal justice coupled with limited community outreach has likely frustrated both law enforcement attempts at information gathering as well as affected migrant workers, who have been encouraged to stay inside dormitories on their day off. Despite a call against xenophobic comments, official statements, such as those made by Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam, perpetuate an “us” versus “them” rhetoric. Moreover, statements claiming a lack of evidence linking the riot to labor conditions may not take into account any systemic distrust in government authorities by migrant workers. (more…)

Temporary reprieve

TTRP are currently traveling and have suspended blog posts for the remainder of August. Normal posting will resume in September. In the interim, guest posts are more than welcome. Please email to inquire. thetraffickingresearchproject [at] gmail.com.

Caroline & Kathryn

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…)

Submission to the APPG on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade (UK)

Last week, TTRP made a submission to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade.

An All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) occupies a strategic and effective position within the Parliamentary system.  An APPG is cross-party, with a minimum number of Parliamentarians from Government and the official opposition, and cross-House, made up of both peers and MPs.  These groups are not funded by Parliament.  APPGs do not have any powers to compel witnesses or submissions.  Groups can have a number of staffing options – some have no dedicated staff, others utilise external consultants with specialist skills and some, like the APPG on Prostitution, have their secretariat functions performed by external NGOs.  In this case Care, a Christian NGO, which declares itself to be:

… a well-established mainstream Christian charity providing resources and helping to bring Christian insight and experience to matters of public policy and practical caring initiatives.  CARE demonstrates Christ’s compassion to people of all faiths and none believing that individuals are of immense value, not because of the circumstances of their birth, their behaviour or achievements, but because of their intrinsic worth as people.  CARE is represented in the UK Parliaments and Assemblies, at the EU in Brussels and the UN in Geneva and New York.

The APPG on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade has a website, though it contains limited information about the Group’s work.  The purpose of the Group, as set out in the Register, is to:

raise awareness of the impact of the sale of sexual services on those involved and to develop proposals for government action to tackle individuals who create demand for sexual services as well as those who control prostitutes; to protect prostituted women by helping them to exit prostitution and to prevent girls from entering prostitution.

Gavin Shuker (Lab) is Chair; Claire Perry (Con) is Treasurer and; Fiona McTaggart (Lab) is Secretary.

The inquiry took the form of an online questionnaire, though the background to the inquiry and the questions asked can be found here.

Our full response can be accessed here.

En-abling protection? Part 2

Last week we examined the intersection between human trafficking and disability; we argued that this issue requires further attention in research, policy and legislative terms to ensure that states meet their commitments to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).  Now, we move to look at the application of the Convention to victims of trafficking.  This post also considers how states restrict the application of rights based on migration status and the consequential impact this has on the access to, and protection of, the rights of disabled victims of trafficking.  Finally, we consider the action that states need to take to improve the fulfilment of rights to this group.

The Convention contains a number of provisions relevant to victims of trafficking.  Firstly, Article 16 requires states take steps to protect those with disabilities from exploitation, violence and abuse.  Within this is the requirement that governments allocate assistance and support for disabled people to prevent exploitation, including education and information on exploitation.  Article 16 also recognises the additional discrimination which may be faced by disabled people on the basis of age and gender.  We argue that ethnic or community background should also be considered within this framework:  for example, the challenges faced by a disabled Roma woman may be significantly different from those faced by a white British disabled trafficking victim. (more…)

En-abling protection?

A significant day for the advancement of human rights in Singapore occurred on 30 November 2012: the signing of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).  For a country with a reputation for resisting engagement with international human rights instruments, this was a step forward.  Though the press release from the Ministry of Social and Family Development was positive, there was the usual reticence on the use of the language of rights. Perhaps indicative of Government’s attitude to the Convention’s implementation was the statement that: “Singapore agrees with the spirit of the Convention” (emphasis added), rather than any concrete plans to ratify the treaty or implement its obligations in legislation or policy terms.  Singapore’s lukewarm commitment to the treaty (and the rights of disabled people), combined with broader silence from a range of government agencies including the Inter-Agency Taskforce on Trafficking in Persons, highlights the lack of a  holistic and strategic approach to the rights of disabled people broadly and the rights of disabled victims of human trafficking specifically.

In this two-part post, we intend to delve into the intersection between human trafficking and disability.  Part One will focus on exploring the role of disability as a specific risk or vulnerability to trafficking, the challenges faced by this group from inequality and on the potential for protection provided by UNCRPD.  Part Two will examine the specific application of the Convention to victims of trafficking, the impact that unstable migration status may have on the ability of disabled victims to access the rights provided for by the CPRD and the action states need to take to improve the provision of rights to this group. (more…)