By Darren Boon

Human Right Watch
Human Right Watch

An independent human rights advocacy organisation criticised Singapore’s continued restrictions on human rights despite several small signs of progress in the area.

Human Rights Watch in its World Report 2013 released Jan 31 said, “The Singapore government in 2012 continued to sharply restrict basic rights to free expression, peaceful assembly, and association.”

The report also noted “small signs of progress” in areas such as “changes in mandatory death penalty laws, and limited improvements in protecting the rights of migrant workers and combating human trafficking”.

According to a press release on Human Rights Watch, Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch said: ““Singapore’s status as a world-class economy has not kept it from having a remarkably poor record in respecting the rule of law, and civil and political rights. The Singaporean people must be wondering when their government is going to trust them enough to exercise the same basic rights as people elsewhere.”

The report also criticised Singapore for doing little in ensuring that ASEAN “engaged meaningfully with civil society organisations, particularly during development of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration” that came into effect Nov 2012.

The report said that while Singapore’s constitution guarantees the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, restrictions are put in place due to security, public order, morality as well as racial and religious harmony.

Restrictions apply to the media, outdoor gatherings of five or more people require a police permit, associations of more than 10 members need approval from the Registrar of Societies.

Bloggers have been threatened with litigation, the report said.

The report criticised Singapore for keeping the Internal Security Act (ISA) and judicial caning. However, the report signalled positive developments in laws that allow for the dropping of mandatory death penalty in murder and drug trafficking cases to allow for life imprisonment with caning if certain conditions are met.

The report also highlighted that sexual acts between consenting adult men are still criminalised.

Rights of migrant workers has somewhat improved but still lacking, the report noted. A significant power imbalance exists in favour of the employer. Foreign domestic workers are excluded from the Employment Act and other labour protections such as the maximum daily work hours.

Issues such as long work hours, poor living conditions, and enforced living confinement have yet to be addressed. Foreign workers suffer forced labour through debts to recruitment agencies, non-payment of wages, restricted movements, confiscated passports as well as abuse.

The report said that “the government is still not in compliance with minimum standards for trafficking elimination” and whiles protection and prevention has been improved, “prosecutorial efforts have been weak”.

“Singapore is one of only nine countries that did not vote for passage of International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention No 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers. It has not ratified the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons,” the report said.

The report also said that “human rights defenders in Singapore risk being fined, imprisoned and banned from travelling outside the country without government approval”.

Mr Robertson had a stinging rebuke for Singapore, “The international community should not be taken in by Singapore claims on human rights,. Ask a rights advocate, an opposition activist, or a migrant worker what they think about today’s Singapore, and the repressive back-story of this glistening city-state will come out.”

Meanwhile, Reporters Without Borders in its Press Freedom Index 2013 ranked Singapore 149 out of 179, just one spot ahead of Iraq (150) and Malaysia (145).

Singapore’s previous ranking was 135.,1054.html

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
You May Also Like

McDonald’s Singapore extends closure until further notice amid COVID-19 outbreak

McDonald’s Singapore announced on Facebook today (30 April) that it will extend…

PSP calls for equal opportunities for citizens, decent livelihoods for all in its National Day message

Singapore’s alternative political party Progress Singapore Party (PSP) has called for a…

Singapore's tax on race

By Masked Crusader Most Singaporeans, like me, have been making monthly contributions…

不明无人机闯樟宜机场 致37航班延误一条机场跑道关闭

前日(18日)和昨日(19日),在樟宜机场附近出现不明无人机飞行,导致37航班定期航班遭延误,以及一条机场跑道被迫关闭。 民航局昨日发出文告表示,樟宜机场确实在18日晚间11点至19日早上9点期间,被迫关闭一条机场跑道,而另一条跑道则正常运行。为保乘客与航运运作安全,目前已有37架航班延误,还有一趟入境航班被迫在吉隆坡机场降落。 根据民航局条例,无人机不可在机场或我国空军基地周围五公里内飞行。 民航局联合新加坡武装部队与警方一同展开调查与侦查无人机踪影,调查仍在进行中。 国防部昨日也发出文告,表示仍在调查此次事故。 民航局表示,“此次无人机闯入机场事件,可能会对航空与个人安全造成威胁,民航局将严正以待,经调查属实后,将会毫不犹豫采取执法行动。一旦罪成可判罚款不超过2万元或监禁最长12个月,或两者兼施。 根据《联合早报》报道,新航回复证实19趟新航航班受影响,主要涵盖东南亚、北亚、欧洲和西南太平洋的航线,延误时间介于8分钟至33分钟。新航发言人说,公司为需转机的受影响乘客提供了相关协助。 新加坡空军部队在接获通报后,立即调派人员向无人机发出反制信号(signal jammer)。目前不清楚无人机是否已被“拿下”。 空军部队在去年5月庆祝空军成立50周年活动上,曾展示利用反制信号迫降不明无人机的先进器材。该反制信号枪(jammer gun)可拦截市面上绝大多数无人机的信号,迫使无人机降陆。 交通部兼卫生部高级政务部长蓝彬明医生今年1月在国会曾透露,无人机未经许可飞入樟宜机场方圆五公里以内空域的事件,过去三年共发生八起,但这些无人机都没有闯入机场范围。…