After 20 charges of theft made against them were dropped by the prosecution, two migrant workers expressed their apppreciation to Singapore-based NGO Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (HOME).
HOME shared in a Facebook post on Thursday (3 December) the two migrant workers — Devendran and Jeevendran — were accused of stealing consignment goods from their employer’s warehouse in September last year.
“They were shocked to be slapped with 10 charges of theft, each,” said HOME.
Highlighting that the men were locked up for over a year after their arrest, HOME said that “the past 14 months have been incredibly difficult for these two young men”.
“They had no income and were dependent on the goodwill of friends just to meet their basic needs like shelter and food,” the NGO added.
Revealing that it helped Devendran and Jeevendran to obtain pro bono legal representation, HOME expressed its appreciation to their lawyers and Criminal Legal Aid Scheme (CLAS) for their committed dedication to their case.
However, it pointed out that they have “limited ability to alleviate the financial, emotional and psychological impact of facing criminal charges as a low-wage migrant worker”.
In fact, HOME has been advocating the right to a fair trial and to have access to legal representation regardless of work pass status or nationality of accused persons.
HOME stated in a statement on 4 September that migrant workers accused of crimes in Singapore face “systemic difficulties” such as being indefinitely held in the country while investigations are ongoing and being prohibited from finding work during such a period.
“During this time, they are also not allowed to leave the country, and have no means of seeing their families back home,” said HOME.
Referencing the case of former domestic worker Parti Liyani, whose conviction and sentencing for theft was overturned by the High Court in September this year, HOME said that many migrant workers do not have the opportunity to be bailed.
Other than this, many migrant workers accused of crimes in Singapore are also “reliant on organizations like HOME to provide them shelter, food, and financial assistance”, said the NGO.
In Ms Parti’s case, HOME had secured a bailor for her for the sum of S$15,000.
It also provided shelter, food, and financial assistance for her over the past four years as she was not allowed to work while waiting for the conclusion of her case.