Civil society groups in Singapore have come together to submit a shadow report to the United Nations (UN) to highlight human rights issues in Singapore for the upcoming Universal Periodic Review (UPR).
Known as The Alliance of Like-Minded CSOs in Singapore (ALMOS), groups represented the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE), Function8, the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME), Project X, Sayoni, Think Centre, WWF Singapore, the Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign and We Believe in Second Chances. Issues covered by these groups include gender equality, detention without trial, migrant labour and rights, sex workers’ rights, queer women’s right, wildfire conservation and the death penalty.
ALMOS’ report highlights outstanding human rights issues, and points out areas for improvement, such as systemic issues in Singapore’s legal and justice framework, the government’s discriminatory policies in relation to families and minority groups, a near-exploitative work environment that impacts both citizens and non-citizens, restrictive laws surrounding civic and political participation and the practice of addressing social and environmental security only on a needs basis. Underpinning all these issues are the lack of open access to information and the suppression of media interested in reporting on human rights violations.
ALMOS also plans to carry out further lobbying and advocacy work through public engagement to raise awareness of civil and political rights in Singapore. For starters, a Facebook page has been created to keep the public updated on ALMOS activities.
ALMOS has engaged with both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and foreign embassies in Singapore, that the UPR debate will take place based on informed perspectives. The group also intends to provide a “live” webcast of the UPR debate in Geneva in January 2016, as well as related forum discussions. A thematic poetry competition will also be hosted by Sayoni from January through to July.
The UPR examines the human rights record of all member states of the UN. As a state-driven process, member states are able to present the actions that they have taken to improve the human rights situation in their country. Recommendations will also be made for the state’s consideration. Reports from civil society organisations are important as these organisations monitor human rights abuses in their country and can provide insight into the realities on the ground.
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