On 12 October 2020, Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) and the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME) sent a joint submission to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) at the United Nations base in Geneva, in the lead-up to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Singapore in 2021.

As laid down by the UN, member states are reviewed for their complaince with human rights standards every four years or so. Singapore’s last review was in 2016.

Civil society stakeholders are invited to submit “shadow reports” to the UN to help the staffers there prepare an overall report. TWC2 hopes our submission will provide the needed information for the UN to do so.

Singapore’s performance will be reviewed by its peers at the 38th session in Geneva, currently scheduled for May 2021.

Our submission highliights several areas of concern:

  • No effective action against high recruitment costs
  • Contract substitution still occurs, often through abuses of the In-Principle Approval for Work Permit
  • Salary entitlements during Covid-19 lockdown obfuscated by government advisories; no political commitment demonstrated to enforce law on wages
  • Freedom of movement severely curtailed even after the peak of Covid-19; some workers confined in dorms continuously for six months
  • Salary mediators overstepping their role and limiting claimant’s rights
  • Processes at Employment Claims Tribunal present multiple barriers to migrant workers, compromising their access to justice
  • No guarantee against repatriation for migrant workers with pending claims
  • Poor enforcement of court orders and settlement agreements
  • No wage protection when employer is insolvent or has absconded
  • Job mobility still highly restricted
  • Access to healthcare highly dependent on employers

Singapore made a number of commitments in the 2016 review to improve human rights standards. Surveying the present situation, TWC2 and HOME are of the view that implementation has mostly been lacking.

The 23-page report (PDF) can be downloaded by clicking the button at right.