Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam on Wed (22 Jan) has instructed the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) Office to issue a Correction Direction under the Act, following Malaysian-based human rights organisation Lawyers For Liberty (LFL)’s recent allegations on the judicial execution methods employed in Changi Prison.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in its statement today also said that Correction Directions were also issued against media outlets such as TOC and Yahoo! Singapore, and to journalist Kirsten Han, for publishing and sharing articles and/or Facebook posts containing “falsehoods”, namely the allegations made by LFL published last Thu (16 Jan) on its website.
While Malay Mail had also published an article on LFL’s statement last Thu, it is not known if the English-language Malaysian daily has been issued a Correction Direction as of press time.
LFL director Melissa Sasidaran in a statement today criticised the Singapore government’s use of POFMA on a Malaysian organisation such as LFL “which is operating and issuing statements on Malaysian soil”, as “Singapore has no business interfering with the freedom of speech of Malaysian citizens making statements within our own country”.
“This is nothing short of an attempt to silence us and prevent the truth about the manner of executions from coming out,” she said, adding that the Singapore government does not have a “monopoly over what constitutes facts and the truth”.
Ms Sasidaran also alleged that the Singapore government’s attempt to invoke POFMA upon LFL and “to extend their jurisdiction to Malaysian citizens across the causeway is provocative, illegal and in breach of international law”.
“POFMA is an oppressive and undemocratic law which was passed recently by Singapore amidst controversy. It has been condemned internationally as a weapon by Singapore to stifle dissent or criticism,” she added.
The LFL director also stressed that the organisation will not abide by the “unlawful and oppressive Correction Notice given by the Singapore government to LFL demanding that we withdraw our statement”.
“We further demand that the Correction Notice issued under section 11 of POFMA be unconditionally withdrawn with immediate effect by the Singapore government,” she said, adding that the Correction Direction notices issued against “Singaporean citizens and organisations” including TOC and Ms Han should also be withdrawn.
Commenting on MHA’s denial of LFL’s allegations regarding the “brutal” and “unlawful” state execution methods in Changi Prison, Ms Sasidaran reiterated LFL’s statement that “prisoners on death row in Changi prison are executed brutally and unlawfully by kicks to the neck whenever the rope breaks”.
“Our statement is based upon evidence from former and current Singapore prison officers. These are officers with impeccable service records,” she said.
Ms Han in a tweet today said that she had sent a follow-up query to the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) the same day LFL’s allegations were published, “asking for their response, as well as other questions about executions in prison and their standard protocol”, particularly “as someone who has been invested in the issue of the death penalty for a long time”.
Questions I sent to the #Singapore Prison Service below. How should journalism and/or oversight from civil society organisations be done if, instead of responding to allegations and media queries, regulatory action (w/ potential of imprisonment/fine if not complied with) is used? pic.twitter.com/x2W1XUOEhI
— Kirsten Han 韩俐颖 (@kixes) January 22, 2020
However, she noted that she did not receive any response from SPS despite having done a follow-up the next day.
Ms Han also said that she will be “using the rest of the time given under the Correction Direction to decide” her next course of action.
— Kirsten Han 韩俐颖 (@kixes) January 22, 2020
TOC has submitted an appeal to the Home Affairs Minister against the Correction Direction today, based on the grounds that our report does not affirm the authenticity of the claims made by LFL, and that we did not receive any response from MHA after submitting a query regarding the claims made by the human rights organisation.
LFL statement on alleged judicial execution method in Changi Prison “baseless” and “preposterous”: MHA
MHA today said that the statement made by LFL last Thu (16 Jan) regarding the alleged judicial execution methods in Changi Prison is “untrue, baseless and preposterous”.
The Ministry added that all executions by the state “are conducted in the presence of the Superintendent of the Prison and a medical doctor, among others”.
MHA added that Singapore law also requires a Coroner — a Judicial Officer of the State Courts — to establish an inquiry within 24 hours of the execution to ensure that “the execution was carried out duly and properly”.
“For the record, the rope used for judicial executions has never broken before, and prison officers certainly do not receive any “special training to carry out the brutal execution method” as alleged.
“Any acts such as those described in the LFL statement would have been thoroughly investigated and dealt with,” MHA said.
The Ministry also charged that the “scurrilous allegations of misconduct” are the latest in “a series of sensational and untrue stories” previously published by the human rights organisation.
“LFL has been publishing various falsehoods to seek attention in hopes of getting Malaysian prisoners, who have been convicted of drug trafficking and sentenced to death in Singapore, off the death penalty,” charged MHA.
The Ministry, however, warned that individuals involved in drug trafficking into the Republic “must be prepared to face the consequences of their actions”, as they “harm and destroy the lives of countless Singaporeans”.