On 10 January 2014, NUS held an innovative conference at University Town’s Ngee Ann Kongsi Auditorium to raise public awareness and improve best practices in addressing human trafficking in Singapore and the region. The conference was made possible by financial support from the Singapore Inter-Agency Taskforce on Trafficking in Persons, which is co-chaired by the Ministry of Manpower and Ministry of Home Affairs, as well as the Chua Thian Poh Community Leadership Programme and the Department of Political Science at NUS.
One of the key conference speakers was Dr Monti Datta, who is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Richmond with research experience in Southeast Asia. Dr Datta, who along with Dr Kevin Bales at the University of Hull, developed a new and much-publicised quantitative measure of human trafficking around the world called the Global Slavery Index. The index aims to document various forms of human trafficking globally to help shape public policies in mitigating worker exploitation and abuse.
Other presenters at the conference included Mr John Gee, the former president of the Singapore-based Transient Workers Count Too, Mr Robert Larga, a director at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration in Manila, Ms Samanthé Eulette, a political officer at the US Embassy in Singapore. Mr Kandhavel Periyasamy, who is the director of the Task Force at the Ministry of Manpower, also spoke and fielded questions from the audience. Importantly, undergraduate students presented their own research projects on human trafficking at the conference as well.
Dr Kevin McGahan, who teaches in the Department of Political Science and the College of Alice & Peter Tan, convened the conference, commenting: “The event not only brought together a diverse array of students, academics, policymakers and activists, but it also facilitated an important dialogue in better addressing the controversial topic of human trafficking.”
“Hopefully, this conference is the start of an ongoing exchange among scholars and students at NUS who are focused on research and community engagement regarding human trafficking and other migration-related issues.”