Singapore has ratified an ASEAN convention against human trafficking, government officials confirmed January 26.
The city-state announced Tuesday that it had ratified the ASEAN Convention Against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (ACTIP), making it one of the first Southeast Asian states to do so.
ACTIP, a legally-binding document approved at the 27th ASEAN Summit last November, seeks to prevent human trafficking and protect its victims in part through greater cooperation among the ten ASEAN states (See: “ASEAN Creates New Community Under Malaysia’s Chairmanship”).
The convention, adopted during Malaysia’s ASEAN chairmanship, was a response to growing trafficking concerns in 2015 amid a humanitarian crisis where thousands of Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshi migrants stranded in crowded boats in the Andaman Sea and Straits of Malacca as well as the discovery of mass graves on the Malaysia-Thailand border thought to be mainly Rohingya victims of human traffickers (See: “Can Southeast Asia Tackle Its Human Trafficking Problem?”).
According to a press release by the Singapore Inter-Agency Taskforce on Trafficking in Persons at the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Instrument of Ratification was formally deposited with the ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh by Singapore’s permanent representative to ASEAN Tan Hung Seng on January 25.
The move comes just months after the city-state acceded to the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children in September last year. Singapore had also enacted the Prevention of Human Trafficking Act in March 2015.
The press release by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Trafficking in Persons, which was set up in 2010 to carry out a National Plan of Action (NPA) to combat TIP, noted that the ratification this week ought to be viewed as further evidence of Singapore’s commitment to addressing trafficking in persons.
“This is another important step taken by Singapore to combat trafficking in persons (TIP),” the press release noted. “Singapore is among the first ASEAN member states to ratify ACTIP and this move further affirms Singapore’s commitment to cooperate with our regional partners in jointly combating TIP.”