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Director and Manager of Entertainment Outlet Charged for Labour Trafficking

  1. On 20 May 2016, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) charged a 52-year old Singaporean man Balakrishnan s/o Jaganathan, and his 29-year old Nepalese wife Khema Bhatta in the State Courts, for offences under the Prevention of Human Trafficking Act (PHTA).
  2. The couple are the first to be charged under section 3(1) of the Prevention of Human Trafficking Act 2014 (“PHTA”) for labour trafficking activities1.

    About the Case
  3. The accused persons were the Director and Manager respectively of a Hindi music pub, Taraana Pte. Ltd.
  4. The accused persons were each charged with seven charges under the PHTA for abusing their power as employers to harbour and exploit seven female Bangladeshi women, who were performing artistes at Taraana Pte. Ltd.
  5. Under Section 4(1) of the Prevention of Human Trafficking Act 2014, any person who is found guilty of an offence under section 3 of the Prevention of Human Trafficking Act 2014, in the case of a first offence, shall be fined up to $100,000 with imprisonment of up to 10 years, and shall be liable to caning of up to six strokes of the cane.

    MOM is Providing Assistance to the Seven Bangladeshi Women
  6. MOM has since taken necessary steps to ensure that the seven Bangladeshi women are provided with the appropriate care. Our investigation officers are visiting them regularly to check on both their physical and mental well-being. We have also engaged professional counselling services to look after their emotional needs. To help in their rehabilitation process, we have facilitated the victims to gain interim employment under the Temporary Job Scheme (TJS).

    Singapore’s Commitment to Combating Trafficking-In-Persons
  7. Singapore remains committed to combating trafficking in persons. The prosecution of this case is one part of how the taskforce intends to tackle the complex issue of trafficking. The Singapore Inter-Agency Taskforce2 on Trafficking-in-Persons (“TIP”), co-chaired by the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Manpower, launched a National Approach against TIP this year, to continue to address trafficking issues through holistic coordinated strategies touching on prevention, prosecution, protection in partnership with various agencies3.
  8. As a sign of its commitment to tackling the TIP issue at the international level, Singapore acceded to the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (UN TIP Protocol) in 2015 and the ASEAN Convention against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (ACTIP) in January 2016.
  9. Members of the public who suspect or are aware of any labour trafficking activity should report the matter to MOM at Tel: (65) 6438 5122 or email mom_fmmd@mom.gov.sg. All information will be kept strictly confidential.

FOOTNOTE

  1. This is the first labour trafficking case charged under PHTA. In April 2015, the first sex trafficking case was prosecuted under the PHTA. The case involved a 25-year-old man who sexually exploited at least two teenage girls and forced them into prostitution. He was eventually convicted in February 2016, and sentenced to six years and three months in jail and fined S$30,000.
  2. Read about the Taskforce on MOM’s website at http://www.mom.gov.sg/trafficking-in-persons
  3. Read the media release on the launch of the National Approach against TIP at http://tinyurl.com/NAagainstTIP.