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FIDH: Government’s response to UN review a major setback for human rights

Paris, 24 June 2016: FIDH -International Federation for Human Rights said in a press release that the Singaporean government’s failure to accept a large number of key recommendations received during its second Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a major setback for human rights.

Singapore did not accept 112 of the 236 recommendations made by UN member states on 27 January 2016. The government’s response to the recommendations was made public during the 32nd session of the UN Human Rights Council, which is currently being held in Geneva, Switzerland.

“The Singaporean government missed yet another opportunity to address many human rights concerns raised by the international community. Singapore can no longer ignore the important civil and political rights that its citizens should enjoy,” said FIDH President Karim Lahidji.

In a disappointing repeat of its performance in January 2016, the Singaporean government reiterated its rejection of the universality of human rights and claimed it could not implement UPR recommendations that were “not appropriate” to the city-state’s national context or “predicated on unfounded assertions, inaccurate assumptions or erroneous information.”

The government did not accept any of the 24 recommendations on the abolition of the death penalty, including seven that called for the ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

The government also failed to accept all four recommendations that called for the amendment of legislation that allows prolonged detention of individuals without judicial review, such as the Internal Security Act (ISA) and the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act (CLTPA).

In addition, the government failed to accept nine recommendations that called on the authorities to ensure the realization of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly.

Finally, the government did not accept any of the 12 recommendations it received concerning Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) rights, including those concerning the repeal of Article 377A of the Criminal Code - a clause that criminalizes sexual acts between consenting men.

As for the recommendations that called for the ratification of key international human rights instruments, the government accepted recommendations concerning the ratification of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). However, it did not accept those that called for the ratification of other important treaties, such as the ICCPR, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT).

Lastly, none of the six recommendations that called for the establishment of a National Human Rights Institution enjoyed the government’s support.

FIDH reiterates its call for the Singaporean government to take rapid and tangible steps towards: the ratification of key international human rights instruments; the abolition of the death penalty; the end of prolonged detention without judicial review; the end of discrimination against LGBTI individuals; and the respect of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly in accordance with international human rights standards.