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Human Trafficking: What tools are available to measure and address businesses’ impact?

This week TTRP welcomes a contribution from Irene Pietropaoli. Irene is a co-founder and director of Measuring Business & Human Rights (MB&HR), a research project that aims to advance the capacity of businesses and corporate stakeholders to assess the extent to which companies meet their responsibility to respect human rights. She is a PhD candidate at the Law school of Middlesex University, London. In the past years she worked as a researcher at the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, and previously as a consultant at Maplecroft for the trafficking and the forced labour human rights indexes, and for the legal programme of ECPAT International. She is now based in Yangon, Myanmar.

Companies become implicated in human trafficking either in their supply-chain when suppliers and sub-contractors engage in trafficking or related forced labour, or directly in their operations, when, for example, they transport or harbour victims. This article describes initiatives and tools developed to measure the extent to which companies meet their responsibility in relation to human trafficking.  (more…)

Singapore’s National Plan of (In)Action: two years on.

March 21st marks the two-year anniversary of the Singapore Inter-Agency Taskforce’s launch of an Action Plan to combat human trafficking. Mirroring 2012, 2013 produced little substance in the way of anti-trafficking initiatives. As Singapore’s landscape shifts, it becomes clear that the anti-trafficking Taskforce is operating in a silo, failing to engage with broader underlying labor concerns affecting exploited individuals. TTRP has previously commented on the lack of action by the Taskforce in both our response to the US TIP Report and our six-month review of the NPA. Continued silence by Government on human trafficking enables an easy review of 2013: a lack of transparency and substantial collaboration with NGOs has resulted in a failure to account for progress achieved across all stated objectives of the plan. (more…)

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…)

Running interference: tackling trafficking

Without The Guardian, I might have remained blissfully ignorant of any preparation for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Sidestepping, for a moment, the imminence of the 2014 (Brazil) and 2018 (Russia) World Cup tournaments, I am stereotypically American. I do not follow soccer, or football, hence the mixed metaphoric title of this post; the only context in which I will sanction the word “tackling” in anti-trafficking discourse. I am, however, no stranger to the keen perseverance of media and activist reporting on the links between A Major Sporting Event and human trafficking. (more…)

Ethical principles in the re/integration of trafficked persons. Experiences from the Balkans.

This week we welcome back Rebecca Surtees. Rebecca is Senior Researcher at NEXUS Institute, an international human rights research and policy center in Washington, DC. NEXUS Institute is dedicated to combating human trafficking as well as other human rights abuses. This post is written in conjunction with a newly released report on developing common ethical principles within anti-trafficking re/integration.

In the Balkan region, human trafficking continues to be a pressing issue. One central aspect of anti-trafficking work is re/integration; the process of recovery and economic and social inclusion following a trafficking experience. Re/integration services are often key to trafficked persons’ ability to recover and move on with their lives. And yet few organisations and programmes have developed ethical principles according to which their re/integration work is implemented, monitored and evaluated.  (more…)

The ROI on CSR

Concerns about workers’ safety in the garment industry have spurred collective protest against several deadly factory fires and the recent building collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Subsequent responses from the Bangladeshi government, the international community and retailers highlight the difficulty in seeking accountability for tragedies which ensue from a failure to develop, implement and enforce measures that ensure employee protection.

Faced with warnings of “financial repercussions from consumers, damage to their stock value or sustained public protests if they do not adopt stricter garment manufacturing standards,” some global clothing retailers, such as the United Colors of Benetton, initially denied any role in factory production of their products. Walt Disney left Bangladesh completely after the November fire, discontinuing production of branded merchandise. Other companies directly affected by the most recent building collapse focused instead on compensation and long-term financial aid for victims. The marred reputation of garment production in Bangladesh has complicated corporate public relations even for companies, like H&M, not directly involved in the Rana Plaza collapse, but part of the industry. In response to concerns about the potential economic vacuum resulting from this swift corporate exodus, the Bangladeshi government closed several garment factories for inspection, opened the door for garment worker trade unions and is considering plans to increase the minimum wage in this industry. (more…)

Collective action: seizing opportunities in opposition

This week TTRP are pleased to present a jointly authored post with SWEAT – a sex workers rights organisation based in Cape Town, South Africa. SWEAT works to ensure that sex workers’ rights are defended, that sex workers have access to health and other services and that sex workers are respected and valued members of society. The organisation takes a rights-based approach to its work and has three central programs: Advocacy and Human Rights Defence; Outreach and Development; and Research and Knowledge Management. Their goals are to: advocate for the decriminalisation of adult sex work in South Africa; to address health and human rights abuses with sex workers; and to support the development of self-representation of sex workers on a national and continental level in issues affecting them. 

TTRP and our blog guests have previously highlighted difficulties within the anti-trafficking movement, and the NGO sector more broadly, of collaboration. This lack of collaboration between stakeholders is a chorus repeated ad nauseum, but, often overlooked, are the less public, daily exchanges that take place between groups that create space for opportunity and constructive engagement. (more…)