Singapore dismayed at unabashed U.S. human trafficking report

09:23, June 29, 2011      

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Singapore criticized a United States Department of State human trafficking report on Tuesday, saying that the report released by the world's only superpower does not apply a consistent, transparent and measurable standard for all countries.

"As is well known, the United States also suffers from serious problems with illegal immigrants, many of whom are trafficked by well-organized criminal gangs which seem to be able to operate with impunity. On any objective criteria, the United States has a more serious TIP (trafficking in persons report) problem compared with Singapore," Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

The Trafficking in Persons Report released by the U.S. Department of State upgraded Singapore's ranking to Tier Two, which means that it is among a group of countries making efforts to meet the U.S. standard of human trafficking but does not yet meet the standards.

Singapore said it noted the change to Singapore's ranking but is dismayed to find the report riddled with inaccuracies in the section on Singapore.

"Trafficking in Persons is an abhorrent international crime which the Singapore government responds to robustly," it said. " Such a casual approach to the facts is troubling. We will highlight two inaccuracies by way of illustration. There are numerous others."

Singapore said the report has a major issue with forced labor on fishing vessels that "originated in Singapore," but such a claim, a first, is "untrue and unverified."

"The Singapore government would not tolerate forced labour on Singapore flagged ships. The United States should thoroughly investigate the 'reports' before faulting us for not pursuing our 'phantom' ships," it said.

It also dismissed an observation in the report that "no known victims" of trafficking were afforded the opportunity to use medical and other services at shelters last year, saying that it had recently provided the United States with detailed information of such services utilized by trafficking victims.

Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the United States has again "unabashedly" awarded itself a Tier 1 ranking, but U.S. mainstream media reports also reported on teenagers coerced into prostitution in the United States are treated not as trafficking victims but as miscreants who are arrested and prosecuted.

"The report also seems to assume that the domestic processes of all countries reviewed are the same as that of the United States," it said, adding that U.S. Senator James Webb also said there are some inconsistencies in the report.

"Perhaps this incongruity could be explained by the fact that the Report does not apply a consistent, transparent, and measurable standard for all countries," the ministry said.

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