Singapore: Persistent violations

Summary: The violations highlighted are those issues raised with the State by more than one international human rights mechanism. This is done with the intention of identifying children's rights which have been repeatedly violated, as well as gaps in the issues covered by NGOs in their alternative reports to the various human rights monitoring bodies. These violations are listed in no particular order.

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Trafficking in children

UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (Concluding Observations, February 2011)

The Committee notes the extensive statistical data provided in the State party's report and replies to the list of issues. The Committee is concerned, however, about the insufficient data on, inter alia, violence against children, child victims of trafficking, and sexual exploitation of children.

Recalling its general comment No. 5 of 2003 on the General measures of implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC/GC/2003/5), the Committee recommends that the State party strengthen its mechanisms for data collection by establishing a national central database on children and developing indicators consistent with the Convention in order to ensure that data is collected on all areas covered by the Convention, particularly on violence, trafficking, and sexual exploitation of children, disaggregated, inter alia, by the age for all persons under 18 years, sex, ethnic and socioeconomic background and by those groups of children in need of special protection. (Paragraphs 16 & 17)

The Committee welcomes the criminalisation in domestic legislation of the sale, trafficking and abduction of children and notes the efforts the State party makes in providing facilities and programmes for victims of trafficking and prostitution, inter alia, hotline, counselling, translation and residential services. The Committee is, however, concerned that despite the legal framework and the efforts made, the State party is a destination country for children subjected to trafficking in persons but the relevant data indicated in the State party report shows unusually low numbers of cases. Furthermore, the Committee is concerned that the State party does not investigate all trafficking cases that are reported, or punish perpetrators with appropriate penalties and that in some cases children victims of trafficking are treated as offenders and arrested for violation of immigration laws.

The Committee recommends that the State party:

Ensure that all trafficking cases involving children are promptly and thoroughly investigated and that perpetrators are prosecuted and punished with appropriate penalties, in particular cases involving the trafficking of children for commercial sexual exploitation;

Take all necessary legislative measures to prevent children who are victims of trafficking from being treated as offenders, in particular, ensuring that they are not detained, that they are provided with appropriate rehabilitative care, that they are reunited with their families, and that they are permitted to remain in the territory of the State party sufficiently long to be an active party in a judicial process against their traffickers;

Conduct a study, with the involvement of civil society, on the nature and scope of the sale, trafficking and abduction of children in the State party;

Raise public awareness about the extent to which trafficking is a problem within the State party's territory and the detrimental effects of child trafficking on the victims;

Strengthen and expand bilateral and multilateral agreements and cooperation programmes with countries of origin, transit and destination to prevent trafficking in children;

Ratify the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (2000); and

Strengthen cooperation, among others, with the ILO/IPEC, International Organisation for Migration and non-governmental organisations. (Paragraphs 66 & 67)

UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (Concluding Observations, July 2011)

While welcoming the establishment in March 2011 of an inter-agency Taskforce on Trafficking in Persons, and the adoption of the definition of "trafficking in persons" as defined in the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, supplementing the United Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, the Committee remains concerned at the continuing prevalence of trafficking in women and girls in the country about the alleged criminalization and deportation of trafficked women and girls as immigration offenders, as well as low reporting rate. The Committee is also concerned at the lack of a comprehensive legal framework to combat against trafficking and provide protection for victims. (Paragraph 25)

The Committee calls upon the State party to:

(a) Ratify the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime;

(b) Enact a specialised legislation against trafficking in persons including the internationally recognised definition of human trafficking in order to better identify victims of trafficking and prosecute traffickers;

(c) Strengthen its measures to combat all forms of trafficking in women and children, including through increased international, regional and bilateral cooperation with countries of origin and transit, in line with article 6 of the Convention, as well as through trainings to the judiciary, law enforcement officials, border guards, social workers in the country; and

(d) Ensure the prosecution and punishment of individuals involved in trafficking and the protection and rehabilitation of victims of trafficking. (Paragraph 26)


Please note that these reports are hosted by CRIN as a resource for Child Rights campaigners, researchers and other interested parties. Unless otherwise stated, they are not the work of CRIN and their inclusion in our database does not necessarily signify endorsement or agreement with their content by CRIN.