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Statement by civil society over concern of treatment rendered towards teenagers

Members of the civil society in Singapore have issued a joint statement to raise concerns to the members of the Singapore Parliament regarding the treatment rendered by the press and the District Court towards the five teenagers arrested on 10 May 2014 for their alleged involvement in a case of vandalism in Toa Payoh on 7 May 2014.

Below attached is the statement issued by them.

Alleged vandals should be treated in accordance with UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

We, the undersigned, wish to raise our concern regarding the treatment rendered by members of the broadcast and print media and the District Court towards the five teenagers (aged 17) arrested on 10 May 2014 for their alleged involvement in a case of vandalism in Toa Payoh on 7 May 2014. As a signatory of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Singapore is obligated to fulfil the commitments set in the CRC which are all aimed at achieving its noble purpose of protecting the rights and welfare of all children.

According to Article 16 of the CRC, “No child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his or her honour and reputation”.

Under Article 40(1), parties to the Convention, “recognize the right of every child alleged as, accused of, or recognized as having infringed the penal law to be treated in a manner consistent with the promotion of the child's sense of dignity and worth, which reinforces the child's respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of others and which takes into account the child's age and the desirability of promoting the child's reintegration and the child's assuming a constructive role in society”.

Article 40(2)(b)(vii) further states that privacy of the child must be guaranteed and respected at all stages of the proceedings.

Although Article 1 of the CRC defines a child as an individual who is not over the age of 18, Singapore's Children and Young Persons Act (CYPA) only provides protections for individuals aged 16 and below.

Therefore, the actions of the broadcast and print media in revealing the identities of the five accused aged 17, run counter to the spirit and intent of the CRC, particularly Articles 16, 40(1), and 40(2)(vii).

In addition, a request made by one of the teenagers to inform his parents about his arrest was denied by the judge at the first mention of his case in court. This denial of assistance by the district judge is a violation of Article 16 of the CRC; however, since the CYPA does not cover individuals over the age of 16, the judge had acted within the boundaries of our laws.

We, the undersigned, believe that Singapore’s laws, and especially the CYPA in the area of children's rights, should be aligned with the provisions of the CRC. This is to ensure that individuals aged 18 and below are duly protected in accordance with international human rights norms.

Further, we note that the five accused teenagers have yet to be proven guilty in a court of law. As such, we urge the Attorney General to look into possible violations of the CRC by members of Singapore’s print and broadcast media as well as provide adequate protection for these teenagers, adhering fully to the spirit of the CRC.

We also urge the Attorney General and the Singapore Police Force to grant the accused five immediate communications with their families as well as access to immediate and adequate legal representation.

Yours Sincerely,

Amy LauschkeJevon NgRachel Zeng
Adrian GopalJocelyn YeoRaymond Chan
Andrew LohJoe TanRobert Yong
Ariffin ShaJolene TanRoger Yap
Betty TanJolovan WhamRoy Ngerng Yi Ling
Braema MathiJoshua ChiangSarah Sidek
Bryan ChoongJufri SalimShelley Thio
Chan Wai HanKirsten HanSidek Mallek
Chng Nai RuiKoh Eng Thiem, RonaldSiew Kum Hong
Chng Suan TzeKokila AnnamalaiSophie Tan
Chong Kai XiongKumaran PillaiStephanie Chok
Chong Wai FungKwan Jin-EeSteve Chia
Clarence Lenon DoraiKZ ArifaSuziana Mohd
Constance SinghamLaw Kah HockSylvia Tan
Damien ChngLenney LeongTan Elice
Dana LamLeow Yong Fatt [Liao Yangfa]Tan Kin Lian
Dr. Paul Ananth TambyahLim Han ThonTan Simin
Dr. Vincent WijeysinghaLim JialiangTan Tee Seng
Dr. Wong Wee NamLim Kay SiuTeo Soh Lung
Eddie NgLow Yit LengTerry Xu
Emily BooLujahhan Mohd IslamTimothy Soh
Evan Ong Eng AnnLukas GodfreyVanessa Ho
Fong Hoe FangLynn LeeVeronica Denise Goh
Francis LawMahaboob BaatshaVincent Cheng
Frederique SohMansura SajahanVincent Law
Han Hui HuiMartin FerraoVivian Wang
Ho Choon HiongMelissa TsangWong Chee Meng
Howard LeeMiak SiewWong Souk Yee
Immae ThamNg E-JayWoon Tien Wei
Isrizal Mohamed IsaNg Joo HockXu Zhi Long
Jacob GeorgeNicholas HarrimanYap Ching Wi
Jacqueline TanNoor Effendy IbrahimYeo Yeu Yong
Jaslyn GoNurul HudaZeng Ziting
Jean ChongPak Geok Choo
Jennifer TeoPatrick Ong

And the following organisations:

  • Function 8
  • MARUAH
  • Restore
  • Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign
  • Think Centre
  • We Believe in Second Chances

Erratum: An amendment has been made to the statement. The definition of the child under the Convention for the Rights of the Child (CRC) is anyone below the age of 18 years and not 18 years and below, as previously stated. The definition of a young person is anyone below the age of 16, and not 16 years and below