Saturday, April 28, 2012

S'pore firms urged to join fight against human trafficking - Channel NewsAsia

Source: Channel NewsAsia

By Imelda Saad | Posted: 28 April 2012 2107 hrs

File pic. (AFP/Illustration, Peter Parks)SINGAPORE: Singapore companies have been urged to join in the fight against human trafficking in the country.

The call was made at a forum organised by non-governmental organisations, and comes just a month after authorities here launched a National Plan of Action Against Human Trafficking.

The plan outlines the country's strategies to combat the problem holistically, with a more victim-centric approach. 

Retailer The Body Shop was one company singled out as taking a firm stand against human trafficking.

It launched an anti-sex trafficking campaign in 2009 and over three years, raised about S$200,000 for the cause.

The company also collected about 115,000 signatures in Singapore, for a global petition that was sent to the United Nations.

NGOs said the issue of human trafficking is not on the radar for most companies when it comes to social corporate responsibility, and they hope to change that.

Those Channel NewsAsia spoke with said companies need to be aware of the problem because they may unwittingly be employers of trafficked victims, or have victims in their midst without knowing.

"For example, in the hotel industry, hotel rooms could be used as places where traffickers bring in victims for customers to exploit. Therefore hotels should be alerted as to how they can be more vigilant against the use of their premises for such purposes. Carriers like ships ferries, they should also be alerted," said Bridget Tan, founder of the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics. 

Experts said businesses should be involved because human trafficking is a global problem, coming in third after illegal drugs and arms.

Authorities said as an open and cosmopolitan city, Singapore is especially vulnerable to human trafficking, not just as a transit but also a destination point. Most of the cases seen here have to do with men, women and girls being subjected to sex and labour trafficking.

NGOs in Singapore said they are willing to provide businesses with the resources and training to raise awareness so that both the employer and worker will know their rights and what to do when they come across victims of trafficking. 

- CNA/cc

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