Cablegate: Singapore: Trafficking in Persons (Tip) Report

DE RUEHGP #0405/01 0590805
O 280805Z FEB 07





E.O. 12958: N/A

B. STATE 202745

1. (U) This is the second of three messages relaying Embassy
Singapore's 2007 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report

2. (U) Continue text of submission:


-- A. Does the country have a law specifically prohibiting
trafficking in persons--both for sexual and non-sexual
purposes (e.g. forced labor)? If so, please specifically
cite the name of the law and its date of enactment. Does the
law(s) cover both internal and external (transnational) forms
of trafficking? If not, under what other laws can traffickers
be prosecuted? For example, are there laws against slavery
or the exploitation of prostitution by means of force, fraud
or coercion? Are these other laws being used in trafficking
cases? Are these laws, taken together, adequate to cover the
full scope of trafficking in persons? Please provide a full
inventory of trafficking laws, including non-criminal
statutes that allow for civil penalties against alleged
trafficking crimes, (e.g., civil forfeiture laws and laws
against illegal debt).

Singapore has a law specifically prohibiting trafficking
(Women's Charter section 141) as well as several other
related laws. Combined, these statutes criminalize all forms
of trafficking in persons as defined by the U.N. Protocol to
Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons and the
U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act. Many defendants are
prosecutable for more than one offense under the laws
described below; for persons convicted of more than two
crimes, consecutive sentences are mandatory. Laws pertaining
to trafficking offenses include:

Forced or coerced prostitution: In Singapore, it is illegal
to use force or deceit to compel a person to go from any
place for the purpose of wrongful confinement, slavery,
illicit intercourse or prostitution; the punishment is up to
10 years in prison, a fine, and caning (Penal Code 362-368).
Procuring, trafficking, or bringing a woman or girl in or out
of Singapore (for any reason other than a legal marriage or
adoption) is illegal and punishable by up to five years in
prison and a SGD 10,000 fine (Women's Charter 141).
Receiving or harboring any woman or girl, if a person has
reason to know she has been procured for prostitution, is
illegal; the punishment is up to 5 years in prison and a SGD
10,000 fine (Women's Charter 140). Facilitating or abetting
the prostitution of any woman or girl is illegal; the
punishment is up to five years in prison and a SGD 10,000
fine (Women's Charter 140). If the girl is under 16, the
offender faces an additional charge carrying a punishment of
3 years in prison and a SGD 2,000 fine (Women's Charter 145).
Managing or assisting in the management of a place of
assignation is illegal; being a tenant, lessee, occupier or
otherwise in charge of a place used as a brothel is illegal;
these crimes carry a penalty of up to five years in prison
and a SGD 10,000 fine (Women's Charter 147-148). It is
illegal to compel a person to do anything they are not
legally bound to do through threats against them or any
person they have an interest in; the punishment is up to
seven years in prison and a fine (Penal Code 503-506).
Aiding the commission of any of the above offenses (even if
they take place abroad), through act or omission, is illegal
(Penal Code 107-109), meaning that harboring, transporting,
and detaining a person who is recruited/forced/coerced into
prostitution is illegal, as is facilitating child sex
tourism, and the punishments are the same as for the actual
crime. Persons found guilty of involvement in any offense
related to prostitution (for example, operating a place of
assignation) can be required to forfeit or vacate any
property found to be, in whole or in part, purchased with the
proceeds of their crime.

Prostitution of minors: Singapore prohibits the unlawful
transfer, possession, custody or control of children and the
importation of children by false pretenses; both offenses are
punishable by up to four years in prison (Children and Young
Persons Act 12). In addition, it is an offense for a person
to commit or abet procuring any obscene or indecent act with
a child or young person (under 14 and 16 respectively); the

SINGAPORE 00000405 002 OF 007

penalty is a prison term of up to two years and/or a fine of
SGD 5,000, which are both doubled for a second and subsequent
offense (Children and Young Persons Act 7). It is illegal to
buy, sell, hire, let for hire, or otherwise obtain or dispose
of any person under 21 for the purpose of prostitution; the
punishment is up to 10 years in prison and a fine (Penal Code
372-373). The government has proposed modifying the Penal
Code to raise the age of consent to 18 for commercial sex
acts; the changes are expected to be tabled in Parliament in
the first half of 2007.

-- B. What are the penalties for trafficking people for
sexual exploitation?

Please refer to the answer above in III A.

-- C. Punishment of Labor Trafficking Offenses: What are the
prescribed and imposed penalties for trafficking for labor
exploitation, such as forced or bonded labor and involuntary
servitude? Do the government's laws provide for criminal
punishment -- i.e. jail time -- for labor recruiters in labor
source countries who engage in recruitment of laborers using
knowingly fraudulent or deceptive offers that result in
workers being exploited in the destination country? For
employers or labor agents in labor destination countries who
confiscate workers' passports or travel documents, switch
contracts without the worker's consent as a means to keep the
worker in a state of service, or withhold payment of salaries
as means of keeping the worker in a state of service? If
law(s) prescribe criminal punishments for these offenses,
what are the actual punishments imposed on persons convicted
of these offenses?

Unlawfully compelling a person to labor against their will is
an offense; the punishment is up to one year in prison and a
fine (Penal Code 374). Slavery and dealing in slaves is
illegal and punishable with up to 10 years in prison and a
fine (Penal Code 370-371). Wrongfully confining a person is
illegal and is punishable with up to three years in prison
and a fine (Penal Code 344); if the intention of the
confinement is to keep them away from persons interested in
their welfare, including public servants, the penalty can be
increased by 2 additional years in jail. Using force or
deceit to compel any person to go from any place for the
purpose or wrongful confinement or slavery is illegal and
punishable with up to 10 years in prison, a fine, and caning
(Penal Code 362-368). It is illegal to compel a person to do
anything they are not legally bound to do through threats
against them or any person they have an interest in; the
punishment is up to two years in prison and a fine (Penal
Code 503-506). Aiding the commission of any of the above
offenses, through act or omission, is illegal, and punishable
with the same penalty as the crime itself (Penal Code

It is an offense under the Employment Agency Rules for
employment agencies to withhold the passports of foreign
workers. Employment agencies that do so face a maximum
penalty of SGD 1,000 for first time offenders. Repeat
offenders can be jailed for up to 6 months and fined a
maximum of SGD 2,000. According to the Ministry of Manpower
(MOM), since 2004, three employment agencies have been
prosecuted for passport withholding and four were fined.

It is an offense under the Employment of Foreign Workers Act
to withhold the salary of foreign workers and offenders may
be fined up to SGD 5,000 and/or imprisonment for a term not
exceeding 6 months. Since 2004, 11 employers have been
prosecuted for failing to pay the salary due to their foreign
domestic workers and four of them were jailed. In November
2006, MOM amended the work permit conditions to require
employers to offer their foreign domestic workers the option
to have direct deposit of their salary in their bank
accounts. From January to September 2006, 23 employers were
successfully prosecuted for abusing their foreign domestic

Any unilateral change in the terms of work contract would
render it null and void, according to MOM. When there is a
contract dispute, MOM provides mediation services to try to
resolve differences before pursuing legal action. According
to MOM, more than 90 percent of such employment disputes are
settled amicably through mediation. Foreign embassies of
labor source countries report that the most common dispute is

SINGAPORE 00000405 003 OF 007

over the late payment of wages, usually by smaller firms.
The failure to pay wages is not seen as a tactic to keep the
worker in a state of service but due to the precarious
financial situation of the firms, some of which declare

-- D. What are the prescribed penalties for rape or forcible
sexual assault? How do they compare to the prescribed and
imposed penalties for crimes of trafficking for commercial
sexual exploitation?

Rape is punishable by a prison term which may extend to 20
years and a fine or caning (Penal Code 376). Assault or the
use of criminal force to a person with intent to outrage
modesty may be punished be a prison term which may extend to
two years, or with a fine, or with caning, or with any two of
such punishments (Penal Code 354).

-- E. Is prostitution legalized or decriminalized?
Specifically, are the activities of the prostitute
criminalized? Are the activities of the brothel
owner/operator, clients, pimps, and enforcers criminalized?
Are these laws enforced? If prostitution is legal and
regulated, what is the legal minimum age for this activity?
Note that in many countries with federalist systems,
prostitution laws may be covered by state, local, and
provincial authorities.

Prostitution per se is not illegal. However, public
solicitation is illegal and punishable with a fine. It also
is illegal for third parties to live off the earnings of
prostitutes, which is punishable with a fine or jail.
Prosecutions for solicitation are rare and usually not aimed
at the prostitute herself. Almost all sex workers in
Singapore come from other countries and are in Singapore on a
tourist or student visa. Entry into Singapore for the
purpose of prostitution or pimping is not permitted, giving
the police legal grounds to detain and repatriate suspected
foreign sex workers. In 2005, authorities detained 3,220
foreign sex workers, of whom 35 alleged that they were
forced, intimidated or tricked into prostitution. A few of
these 3,220 women were prosecuted for having overstayed their
visas in Singapore, but most were simply expelled after
screening for possible coercion and efforts to elicit
cooperation as witnesses against vice operators. In
addition, authorities can exclude from entry persons they
believe may be entering to engage in prostitution. (Note:
Post has requested 2006 law enforcement and immigration
statistics from MHA. End Note.)

The law allows authorities to detain for rehabilitation women
and girls under the age of 21 who are suspected of
involvement in prostitution. Since 1999, official
information is that only seven persons have been held under
this clause.

The government does not currently regard 16- and 17-year old
sex workers as "trafficking" victims if they have knowingly
and willingly engaged in the trade. The government has
indicated that it will raise the age of consent for
commercial sex acts to 18 in the first half of 2007 as part
of its extensive Penal Code revisions.

Operating a brothel and living off the earnings of a
prostitute (pimping) are illegal. In 2005, the authorities
prosecuted 76 pimps and "vice abettors" (e.g., brothel
operators). (Note: Post has requested updated law
enforcement and immigration statistics from MHA. End Note.)
In addition, third parties involved in the prostitution of
girls under the age of 16 face enhanced penalties (see
section III.A).

These legal structures are modified by the government's
policy of "discretionary enforcement" in designated red light
areas. After over 20 years of unsuccessful concerted efforts
to stamp out prostitution in the 1960s and 1970s, the
Government decided to allow some brothels to operate in
designated areas. Cracking down on prostitution had forced
the industry underground, leading to heavy involvement of
organized criminal elements and high rates of sexually
transmitted diseases. In exchange for the Government's
toleration of their activities, "authorized" brothels must
adhere to strict guidelines. Before commencing work, police
interview each woman to ensure she is a voluntary participant

SINGAPORE 00000405 004 OF 007

in the sex trade. All the women must be at least 21 years
old, go through explicit "safe sex" training, submit
themselves to biweekly medical checkups, and carry a yellow
"health" card. These sex workers may work only in the
tolerated brothels, and may not solicit on the street or in
other establishments.

-- F. Has the government prosecuted any cases against
traffickers? If so, provide numbers of investigations,
prosecutions, convictions, and sentences, including details
on plea bargains and fines, if relevant and available. Does
the government in a labor source country criminally prosecute
labor recruiters who recruit laborers using knowingly
fraudulent or deceptive offers or impose on recruited
laborers inappropriately high or illegal fees or commissions
that create a debt bondage condition for the laborer? Does
the government in a labor destination country criminally
prosecute employers or labor agents who confiscate workers'
passports/travel documents, switch contracts or terms of
employment without the worker's consent, use physical or
sexual abuse or the threat of such abuse to keep workers in a
state of service, or withhold payment of salaries as a means
to keep workers in a state of service? Are the traffickers
serving the time sentenced: If not, why not? Please indicate
whether the government can provide this information, and if
not, why not? (Note: complete answers to this section are
essential. End Note)

Of the 3,220 foreign sex workers detained in 2005, 35 alleged
that they were forced, intimidated or tricked into
prostitution. Seven victims did not remain in contact with
the police to pursue investigations. Of the remaining 28
cases, the police were not able to make cases for any
trafficking specific charges, but the government was able to
successfully prosecute eight people under related charges
under the Women's Charter and Immigration Act. Three cases
remained under investigation. (Note: Post has requested 2006
data from MHA. End Note.)

The government does prosecute employment agencies and
employers that withhold the passports of workers. Since
2004, three employment agencies have been prosecuted for
passport withholding and four were fined. Since 2004, 11
employers have been prosecuted for failing to pay the salary
due to their foreign domestic workers and four of them were
jailed. The local media gave prominent coverage to these
cases. In August 2006, a father and son were fined SGD
20,000 each after they pled guilty to failing to pay the
salaries of workers at their now bankrupt construction firm.
The money from the fines was to be distributed among the

-- G. Is there any information or reports of who is behind
the trafficking? For example, are the traffickers freelance
operators, small crime groups, and/or large international
organized crime syndicates? Are employment, travel, and
tourism agencies or marriage brokers fronting for traffickers
or crime groups to traffic individuals? Are government
officials involved? Are there any reports of where profits
from trafficking in persons are being channeled? (e.g. armed
groups, terrorist organizations, judges, banks, etc.)

No known trafficking rings operate in Singapore. Government
officials are not involved in trafficking. Representatives
of other diplomatic missions and NGOs have told us that
whatever trafficking does occur is run by small, freelance
operators based outside of Singapore. Major organized crime
rings do not appear to be involved; some smaller rings have
been discovered in the source countries but generally have
only a few low-level persons physically in Singapore.

The Embassy is not aware of any cases in which employment
agencies, travel agencies or marriage brokers were fronting
for traffickers. The government closely monitors these
agencies, which face severe penalties for helping people to
violate Singapore's strict immigration laws. For example,
travel agencies that repeatedly bring people to Singapore who
do not leave when their visas expire are blacklisted by the
government, are required to post a SGD 1,000 deposit on every
one of their visitors, and face extended processing time for
visas. Employment agencies must be accredited, and are
subjected to periodic audits and spot checks by Ministry of
Manpower authorities. It would be difficult to use marriage
agencies as a front for labor or sex trafficking, given

SINGAPORE 00000405 005 OF 007

Singapore's stringent immigration rules: obtaining permanent
residence status for a foreign spouse is an arduous process
that can take years and subjects the couple to close scrutiny
by immigration officials. Marriages of convenience to obtain
immigration status are illegal, and people who misuse their
Singapore documents (passport and national identity card) to
skirt immigration rules can be prosecuted for fraud and
corruption, both of which carry heavy jail sentences and
potential caning. However, in December 2005, the government
formed an inter-agency working group to evaluate the business
practices of Singapore-based marriage brokers that involve
foreign women. The working group is consulting with agencies
involved in this field and will recommend ways to improve the
way they conduct their business.

-- H. Does the government actively investigate cases of
trafficking? (Again, the focus should be on trafficking
cases versus migrant smuggling cases.) Does the government
use active investigative techniques in trafficking in persons
investigations? To the extent possible under domestic law,
are techniques such as electronic surveillance, undercover
operations, and mitigated punishment or immunity for
cooperating suspects used by the government? Does the
criminal procedure code or other laws prohibit the police
from engaging in covert operations?

The government actively investigates trafficking. Police use
informants, electronic surveillance, and active patrols to
monitor the sex industry for coercion. Police and
prosecutors say that they deal with any allegations of
deception or coercion in the sex industry as priority cases,
and NGOs say that "all" such tips that they pass to the
police receive immediate attention. Authorities screen
detained suspected sex workers (i.e., those not operating in
the "tolerated" system) for possible cases of coercion, and
also to ascertain the identity of "vice operators" involved
and obtain prosecution witnesses against these third parties.
Singapore Police are effective and equipped with broad
powers. They use techniques such as electronic surveillance,
informants, and undercover and covert operations.
Prosecutors can recommend mitigated punishments for people
who cooperate in a police investigation. They use these
powers fully to investigate cases of alleged trafficking,
according to NGO representatives and other observers of the
sex industry.

For labor cases, the Ministry of Manpower conducts spot
checks on employers, has a hotline for domestic workers, and,
with the police, investigates tips from the public as well as

-- I. Does the government provide any specialized training
for government officials in how to recognize, investigate,
and prosecute instances of trafficking?

Police and prosecutors are competent to recognize,
investigate and prosecute trafficking-related offenses.
Police have consulted with a local NGO on techniques for
improving their interaction with victims. The police
coordinate with foreign police forces on specialized training
on issues such as vice syndicates and child exploitation.
Singapore also participates in training courses at the U.S.
International Law Enforcement Academy in Bangkok, including
courses on trafficking-related crimes.

--J. Does the government cooperate with other governments in
the investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases? If
possible, can post provide the number of cooperative
international investigations on trafficking?

The Singapore government does cooperate with other
governments on trafficking cases. It has worked with Thai
and Indonesian police on possible trafficking rings. The
Singapore Police hold regular bilateral meetings with their
Malaysian counterparts on trafficking and other transnational
issues. Singapore and Indonesia are negotiating an
extradition treaty, which would improve cooperative law
enforcement efforts on transnational crimes, including
trafficking. The authorities also work with embassies of
domestic-worker source countries in investigating abuse
allegations. For example, one embassy official from a labor
source country praised the good response by the police and
said "they want to help us."

SINGAPORE 00000405 006 OF 007

Singapore actively participates in multilateral fora to
combat TIP and people smuggling. Singaporean airport and
immigration authorities allow U.S. DHS immigration officers
ongoing access inside Changi airport's transit lounge, where
they assist Singaporean authorities to prevent and address
potential human trafficking, people smuggling, and
immigration fraud cases.

Singapore does not release the number or nature of
cooperative international investigations it participates in.

-- K. Does the government extradite persons who are charged
with trafficking in other countries? If so, can post provide
the number of traffickers extradited? Does the government
extradite its own nationals charged with such offenses? If
not, is the government prohibited by law form extraditing its
own nationals? If so, is the government doing to modify its
laws to permit the extradition of its own nationals?

Singapore is not known to have received requests to extradite
a trafficker. Singapore extradites its own nationals.
Singapore law requires extraditions to be on the basis of a
treaty, but the government is willing to deport
non-Singaporeans into custody if there is no extradition
treaty in existence.

-- L. Is there evidence of government involvement in or
tolerance of trafficking, on a local or institutional level?
If so, please explain in detail.

There is no evidence of government involvement in or
tolerance of trafficking. The Singapore Government is
virtually free of corruption. Penalties in the few isolated
cases of government corruption and misconduct have been harsh.

-- M. If government officials are involved in trafficking,
what steps has the government taken to end such
participation? Have any government officials been prosecuted
for involvement in trafficking or trafficking-related
corruption? Have any been convicted? What sentence(s) was
imposed? Please provide specific numbers, if available.

Not applicable.

-- N. If the country has an identified child sex tourism
problem (as source or destination), how many foreign
pedophiles has the government prosecuted or
deported/extradited to their country of origin? What are the
countries of origin for sex tourists? Do the country's child
sexual abuse laws have extraterritorial coverage (similar to
the U.S. PROTECT Act)? If so, how many of the country's
nationals have been prosecuted and/or convicted under the
extraterritorial provision(s)?

Men from Singapore do travel to countries in the region for
sex tourism. It is probable that some are engaging in child
sex tourism. Post is not aware of any estimates of the
number of Singaporeans who are involved in child sex tourism.

The Singapore government acknowledges that it has a sex
tourism problem. In its proposed amendments to the Penal
Code (expected to be tabled in Parliament in the first half
of 2007), the government would extend extra-territorial
jurisdiction over Singaporean citizens and permanent
residents who purchase or solicit sexual services from minors
overseas. The penalty would be imprisonment for a term up to
seven years and/or a fine. To further help combat child sex
tourism, the proposed amendments also make organizing or
promoting child sex tours a criminal offense. The penalty
would be imprisonment for a term of up to 10 years and/or a

-- O. Has the government signed, ratified, and/or taken steps
to implement the following international instruments? Please
provide the date of signature/ratification if appropriate.

--ILO Convention 182 concerning the Prohibition and Immediate
Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor.

Singapore ratified ILO Convention 182 in June 2001.

--ILO Convention 29 and 105 on Forced or Compulsory Labor.

Singapore ratified Convention 29 in October 1965. It

SINGAPORE 00000405 007 OF 007

ratified Convention 105 the same month, but withdrew from it
in April 1979.

--The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of
the Child (CRC) on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution,
and Child Pornography.


--The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in
Persons, especially Women and Children, supplementing the UN
Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime.


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