Detention without trial under the ISA today

Detention without trial under the ISA today

by Teo Soh Lung

In Oct 2016, I wrote this article for TOC (…/the-illusive…/). The information in that article is still relevant. Six of the prisoners listed in the article have been released.

However, more have been arrested and detained since then. The number today is 156 people under the law. They are all Muslims.

Three of the men who were arrested in 2001 and 2002 are still in prison. We do not know the reason why they are still being held. Alleged to have planned the bombing of embassies in Singapore in 2001, the government has not disclosed any evidence to support their claims.

The world criticised America for torturing prisoners in Guantanamo. We know that several of the prisoners who were released to their home countries have spoken up and received compensation from their government. Not so in Singapore. The three who were detained since 2001/2002 have largely been forgotten. The world do not know their existence.

There are about 20 ISA detainees today. This number has not been confirmed by the Ministry of Home Affairs despite requests to do so. All of them have been gazetted by the Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law as terrorists. This is despite the fact that no weapon of mass destruction have been produced and Singapore is still a peaceful country.

Detention without trial should not be used by any democratic country which subscribes to the rule of law. Detainees should be charged in open court.

But Singapore is not a signatory to the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural as well as the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

I doubt it will ever sign any of these instruments for the protection of human rights, at least not during my lifetime.

Despite Singapore’s capability of tracking people with its thousands of cameras, tracking and listening devices, it does not have confidence in releasing these prisoners.

Or is the government being mean or under pressure from some powerful country?

This was first published on Function 8’s Facebook page and reproduced with permission.

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