Singapore
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    Profile

    Singapore

    Capital

    Singapore

    Gross domestic product (GDP)

    USD 372,062.53 million

    Income group

    High income

    Population

    5,703,569

    Area

    719 km²

    Geography type

    Island

    3.13

    Criminality score

    174th of 193 countries

    44th of 46 countries in Asia

    10th of 11 countries in South-Eastern Asia

    Criminal market

    3.25

    Human trafficking

    5.50

    Human smuggling

    2.50

    Arms trafficking

    2.00

    Flora crimes

    2.00

    Fauna crimes

    5.00

    Non-renewable resource crimes

    1.50

    Heroin trade

    4.00

    Cocaine trade

    3.00

    Cannabis trade

    2.00

    Synthetic drug trade

    5.00

    Criminal actors

    3.00

    Mafia-style groups

    3.00

    Criminal networks

    3.50

    State-embedded actors

    1.50

    Foreign actors

    4.00

    7.71

    Resilience score

    12th of 193 countries

    1st of 46 countries in Asia

    1st of 11 countries in South-Eastern Asia

    Political leadership and governance

    7.50

    Government transparency and accountability

    7.50

    International cooperation

    9.00

    National policies and laws

    8.50

    Judicial system and detention

    9.00

    Law enforcement

    9.00

    Territorial integrity

    8.00

    Anti-money laundering

    7.00

    Economic regulatory capacity

    8.00

    Victim and witness support

    7.00

    Prevention

    9.00

    Non-state actors

    3.00

    7.71 3.00 3.25 7.71 3.00 3.25

    7.71

    Resilience score

    12th of 193 countries

    1st of 46 countries in Asia

    1st of 11 countries in South-Eastern Asia

    Political leadership and governance

    7.50

    Government transparency and accountability

    7.50

    International cooperation

    9.00

    National policies and laws

    8.50

    Judicial system and detention

    9.00

    Law enforcement

    9.00

    Territorial integrity

    8.00

    Anti-money laundering

    7.00

    Economic regulatory capacity

    8.00

    Victim and witness support

    7.00

    Prevention

    9.00

    Non-state actors

    3.00

    Analysis

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    People

    Singapore is a transit and destination country for human trafficking. Individuals trafficked from other South and South-east Asian countries are often rendered vulnerable to sex or labour exploitation through various means. Employers are known to regularly withhold pay, restrict the movements of their victims and commit physical and sexual abuse. The economic fall out caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to have made certain communities in the region more vulnerable to trafficking.

    Regarding human smuggling, Singapore has seen a decrease in cases as authorities have become better at detecting concealed individuals at land and sea checkpoints. However, at the same time, criminal organizations have developed more sophisticated methods of human smuggling, including the procurement of genuine and fraudulent travel documents.

    Trade

    The level of firearm and ammunition smuggling in Singapore is negligible as the country has one of the strictest gun-control laws in the world, a relatively small population, a high degree of public safety, and is insulated by neighbours where gun trafficking appears to be under control. However, as a thoroughfare for international shipping, it is highly likely that illicit consignments such as illegal arms pass through Singapore’s maritime borders.

    Environment

    Singapore is a transit country for fauna crimes, including the illegal wildlife trade of birds, reptiles, ivory, rhino horn and pangolins. The country’s geography is especially attractive for wildlife traffickers, given its vast coastline and surrounding waters, which are home to several endangered and rare marine species. In addition to being a transit hub, Singapore has been implicated in domestic ivory sales. However, this is expected to decline with a ban on domestic ivory sales that goes into effect in 2021. As for flora crimes, Singapore has a zero-tolerance approach to timber smuggling and there is no evidence to suggest that the already small illegal flora market has expanded in recent years. Similarly, there are no reports of non-renewable-resource crimes in Singapore, with the exception of a few isolated cases of gold smuggling into the country.

    Drugs

    The production and trafficking of methamphetamine in Singapore has increased in recent years, making it the most trafficked and consumed drug in the country. Cannabis is the second most used drug in the country, but the amounts seized and the number of users are very low compared to the rest of Asia. While Singapore is not a heroin producer, heroin trafficking is a problem in the country. At the same time, there has been a decline in the number of heroin users over the last few years. With regard to cocaine, there have been reports of increased trafficking in Singapore. However, the amount of cocaine seizures in recent years suggests that the market is relatively small.

    Criminal Actors

    There are several loose networks of criminal associates engaging in illicit activities in Singapore. The most common of these engage in internet scams, unlicensed moneylending, operating illegal gambling dens and illegally importing cigarettes without paying duty. However, these groups do not pose a major threat to society and are closely monitored by the national police. There have also been reports of authorities dismantling several drug syndicates in the country, as well as organized criminal networks smuggling ivory from Mozambique. Although Singapore has a long history of secret societies, a police task force has mostly dismantled them, including two major ones that controlled the bulk of organized crime in the country.

    There are still criminal gangs in Singapore, but they are described as an unorganized network of street-corner gangs with no centralized leaders, making them less of a problem. There have also been reports of foreign members in Singapore’s criminal gangs, mainly from neighbouring countries. Meanwhile, there is no evidence of state-embedded criminal actors operating in the country.

    Leadership and governance

    Singapore has one of the most stable governments in the world, which is largely free from political corruption and criminal influence. The country’s legislative anti-corruption framework, which is applied to both public and private sector actors, is robust, criminalizing bribery and other forms of facilitation payments and gifts, as well as the bribing of any foreign officials. However, public perception of transparency in government decision making has fallen, potentially due to its COVID-19 response. Furthermore, although public data can be accessed online on government websites, there is no Freedom of Information Act in place in Singapore. With regard to international cooperation, Singapore participates in several bilateral extradition treaties and extradition arrangements.The country is also a signatory to international conventions and treaties targeting organized crime and illegal arms.

    Criminal justice and security

    The government has played a proactive role in reducing organized crime through a robust legal framework, effective law enforcement and strong legislation. The country’s judges are independent and there is little evidence of corruption within the judiciary. Similarly, the police response to crime is considered effective and professional, in part due to mechanisms that investigate and punish abuse. In 2015 the country introduced a law to empower law-enforcement authorities to detect, investigate, prevent and disrupt organized criminal activities. Additionally, Singapore has one of the strictest drug-control laws globally and has one of the world’s top execution ratesfor non-violent drug offences. For environmental crimes, Singapore applies a law that gives effect to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species to control the import and export of endangered species in Singapore. To address modern slavery in Singapore, the country introduced a law that criminalizes forced labour, and sex and labour trafficking. Despite all these factors, Singapore remains an attractive place for smugglers due to its expansive coastline, numerous islands and proximity to large illicit markets in the region. Because of this, the country is also active in securing its borders through the use of various technologies, including surveillance cameras along its coastline and biometric screenings at checkpoints.

    Economic and financial environment

    Singapore is one of the world’s largest financial centres, with a highly developed free-market economy that is largely free of corruption, has stable prices, low unemployment and a high per-capita GDP. It is also highly resilient to money laundering and terrorist financing due to its highly sophisticated and inclusive legal and institutional frameworks. Furthermore, individuals and companies involved in money laundering and terrorism financing now face stiffer penalties under a new bill passed in 2018. Nevertheless, moderate gaps remain, and authorities have been accused of turning a blind eye to issues relating to illicit financial flows, especially in its ports. Additionally, while there are no sectors that are dominated by organized crime, it does exist within the financial-services sector.

    Civil society and social protection

    The Singapore government has almost doubled the budget for victim care and protection services, as well as anti-trafficking and prevention activities. An inter-agency task force has also conducted campaigns to educate workers on their rights, raise public awareness of trafficking, and publicize efforts to punish employers for trafficking-related violations. On financial crimes, two best-practice papers were released to guard against the misuse of company structures for illicit purposes. The police force also offers an online platform called i-Witness, which allows individuals to report on criminal activity to the police. Despite these efforts, some concerns have been raised about the lack of consistent screening of trafficking indicators, especially during brothel raids.

    In terms of non-state actors, while the constitution provides freedom of speech and expression, the government imposes official restrictions on these rights and Singapore has one of the most oppressive media environments in the world. Companies linked to the government own almost all domestic media outlets, and most journalists practise self-censorship. Furthermore, recent legislation gives the government the power to force media outlets, including online platforms, to ‘correct’ any information they deem to be incorrect. Additionally, the country requires organizations of more than 10 people to register with the government who have full discretion to register or dissolve such groups.

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    The criminal markets score is represented by the pyramid base size and the criminal actors score is represented by the pyramid height, on a scale ranging from 1 to 10. The resilience score is represented by the panel height, which can be identified by the side of the panel.

    This report was funded in part by a grant from the United States Department of State.

    ENACT is funded by the European Union and implemented by the Institute for Security Studies and INTERPOL, in affiliation with the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime.

    The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.