by Teo Soh Lung
Singapore is a signatory to the Convention on Rights of the Child since 1995.
In 2019 or 2020, the law was amended to grant a person who is below the age of 18 protection under Singapore’s laws. He cannot be prosecuted as an adult.
It took Singapore nearly a quarter of a century to recognise that a person under 18 should be deemed a child and receives adequate protection.
The Internal Security Act (ISA) is the harshest criminal law in Singapore. It does not afford the person arrested and detained a right to be tried in open court and detention is indefinite.
The Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministers can make the wildest allegations against the person but the public will never know if the allegations are true.
I find it incredible that Singapore had used the ISA against a 16-year-old child, and deemed it proper to level wild allegations against him. Even if the allegations have a grain of truth, why is the school, the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Community Development unable to deal with the child?
I also find it extremely disturbing that while Singapore is a signatory to the Convention and has raised the age for protection of a child from 16 to 18, the ISD continues to arrest and detain young Singaporeans under the age of 18.
This 16-year-old is not the first child to be arrested and imprisoned under the ISA. A 15-year-old was arrested in January 2020, and is still being detained. In June 2016, a 17-year-old was arrested and detained.
The Ministry of Home Affairs owes the public an explanation as to why it chose to flout the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child which it willingly acceded to in 1995.
This was originally posted on Teo Soh Lung’s Facebook page, and reproduced with permission.
Public trial not suitable for 16-year-old boy who planned to attack Muslims as it may run the risk of deepening religious divides: Minister K Shanmugam
Speaking to the media on Thursday (28 Jan), Minister for Home Affairs K Shanmugam said that the 16-year-old Singaporean who had made plans to attack Muslims here will get a hearing under the Internal Security Act (ISA).
Mr Shanmugam argued that broadcasting the teenager’s motives to public may stir up negative religious sentiments, as reported by TODAY.
The Minister added that the boy’s age was not taken into account when the decision to detain him under the ISA was made.
He was quoted saying, “I think we agree that he is capable of doing harm. And until he’s rehabilitated, if we leave him out, and if he carries out what he intends to do, I think we’ll all be very sorry.”
“Given his age there must be considerable hope that he can be rehabilitated.”