Man charged under a new anti-human trafficking law

A 24-year-old Singaporean man has become the first person here to be charged under the Prevention of Human Trafficking Act, which went into force last month.

According to court documents, Muhammad Khairulanwar Rohmat allegedly recruited a 15-year-old with the purpose of exploiting her. The girl cannot be named because of a gag order.

The offence reportedly took place on April 15 between 3.30pm and 5.30pm at a Starbucks cafe in Orchard Road.

At about 4.30pm, he allegedly had consensual sex with her in a men's toilet in Cuppage Plaza.

For this offence, he faces a second charge of having sex with a minor under the Penal Code.

Yesterday, Khairulanwar appeared in court dressed in a black T-shirt. He was calm and silent as the charges were read to him. He was remanded for a week for further investigations.

The case will be heard again next Wednesday.

Under the Prevention of Human Trafficking Act, anyone who recruits, transports, transfers, harbours or receives a child for the purpose of exploitation, whether here or abroad, is guilty of an offence.

First-time offenders can be fined up to $100,000, jailed for up to 10 years and caned a maximum of six strokes.

For sexually penetrating a minor, he could be jailed for up to 10 years, fined, or both.

The new Prevention of Human Trafficking Act began as a Private Member's Bill proposed by MP Christopher de Souza in 2013.

He was given the go-ahead from the Ministry of Home Affairs to table it in Parliament, which was done last October and, after a series of heated debates, the Bill was passed into law last November.

Yesterday, Mr de Souza told The Straits Times that the landmark Act had two aims.

He said: "One aim of the Act is to strongly empower ground enforcement against human trafficking.

This will help deter acts of trafficking. The other aim is to protect victims.

Both are equally important aims. It is for the courts to decide whether the facts of any particular case meet the legal elements under the Act."

This article was first published on April 24, 2015.
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