HOME Submits Mid-Term Review to UN Human Rights Council

UN Human Rights Council. Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/un_photo/5553604787

UN Human Rights Council. Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/un_photo/5553604787

14 August 2018

The Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (HOME) has submitted a report to the United Nations Human Rights Council as a part of the mid-term UPR process. This report is a follow up to the second review of Singapore’s obligations under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), in which a number of recommendations towards improving the rights of migrant workers were accepted by the Singapore government.

The Universal Periodic Review is a mechanism of the Human Rights Council (HRC) aimed at improving the human rights situation of each of the 193 United Nations (UN) Member States. Under this mechanism, the human rights situation of all UN Member States are reviewed every five years. The result of each review is reflected in the Final Report of the Working Group, which lists the recommendations the State under review will have to implement before the next review.

In total 236 recommendations were made by the various UN member states to the Singapore government. The government supported 106 recommendations; seven recommendations received partial support. It noted a total of 109 recommendations.

HOME’s mid-term review assesses the situation of migrant workers’ rights and the extent to which Singapore has implemented the recommendations it has committed to. A total of 29 recommendations that tackle labour rights, access to justice and trafficking in persons were accepted or taken into consideration by the government. A number of these recommendations were discussed with the Ministry of Manpower as part of HOME’s engagement with the authorities.

Among the issues raised by HOME was that domestic workers continue to experience abuse and exploitation because of their exclusion from the Employment Act. The government’s failure to regulate local employment agencies effectively has also led to many workers paying usurious rates to their recruiters. Wage discrimination by nationality, and gaps in wage dispute redress mechanisms have resulted in many workers returning home empty-handed or with only a fraction of what they are owed. Despite efforts to regulate dormitories, many workers still live in slum-like conditions because of a lack of a common standard that applies to all housing types. The confiscation of passports by employers continues to be a widespread problem. Efforts to combat trafficking are hindered by the absence of a victim-centric approach and inadequate definitions in the Prevention of Human Trafficking Act.

The report ends with 15 recommendations to tackle these challenges and can be read here.

Stephanie Chok