Hagar International’s Singapore branch is on the frontlines of support for victims of exploitation and human trafficking. Working to help victims return home and recover, they are perfectly positioned to identify victims’ claims for just compensation against their abusers, and help preserve the evidence before they go home.
Justice Without Borders (“JWB”) recently shared its experiences on evidence collection with the full-time staff and volunteers at Hagar Singapore. The workshop delivered smart case preparation procedures and practices with Hagar’s caseworkers, who work tirelessly for the victims who come through their doors.
JWB also invited two experienced legal practitioners – Mr Wilbur Lim (Managing Director of WMH Law Corporation) and Ms Felicia Ong (Associate at Beacon Law Corporation) to share the lawyer’s perspective on evidence collection strategies – specifically, what types of evidence caseworkers should collect in order to put together the strongest civil claim possible.
Evidence is crucial to any case – the strength of evidence often determines whether or not a client wins, even before going to court. However, when it comes to helping migrant workers, who face unpaid wages, abuse or exploitation, frontline organizations like Hagar encounter many challenges in collecting what’s needed. Too often, workers come in empty-handed, lacking documentation, records, contracts or sometimes even the knowledge of their employer’s real names.
JWB staff and our law firm partners discussed these challenges, setting out a list of crucial information and items that the caseworkers should collect when a victim first seeks help. Critically, the speakers also identified the agencies and parties from whom such evidence could be sought, paying special attention where the workers have a legal right to access the information.
Hagar’s caseworkers engaged the trainers in a spirited discussion of the ideals of the perfect case, versus the realities of the victims’ experiences on the ground. The dialogue continued even after the training session ended, as participants continued to discuss strategies and next steps for cooperation.
We are very thankful to our legal partners for leading the training, and we look forward to fostering a working partnership with Hagar that will ensure all victims have access to just compensation, even after returning home.