HRC48 Oral Statement on Item 6: Adoption of the UPR Outcomes of Singapore
30 September 2021 1:54 am
48th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council
Item 6: Adoption of the UPR Outcomes of Singapore
Delivered by Soe Min Than
On behalf of Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
30 September 2021
FORUM-ASIA makes this statement in solidarity with our member Think Centre.
We note that Singapore has accepted the majority of the 324 recommendations it received. However, Singapore’s failure to accept several recommendations to ratify key human rights treaties including the ICCPR and ICESCR raises serious questions about its commitment to meaningfully protect and promote human rights.
This has led to alarming expressions of discrimination, lack of a basic minimum wage for the lowest paid workers, and the use of the capital punishment for drug-related offences.
We regret that Singapore has rejected a number of recommendations to amend legislations on internal security, public order, protection from ‘Online Falsehoods and Manipulation’, sedition, defamation, press and media, administration of justice as well as sections of the Penal Code, that impose broad and unlawful restrictions under international human rights law on freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association.
These laws have stifled dissent and curtailed access to information through trumped up criminal charges against journalists, human rights defenders and activists. The hostile investigation of media outlet, New Naratif and its director, PJ Thum, the judicial harassment against Jolovan Wham, and the arbitrary suspension the media organisation, The Online Citizen, are just the latest among the brave yet stifled independent voices.
The recent introduction of the Foreign Interference (Countermeasures) Bill (Fica) adds to these concerns. Being hurriedly enacted into law with little time for deliberation, enabling the targeting of individuals accused of acting ‘on behalf of a foreign principal’, by scrutinising their activities, and restricting their access to resources, under the guise of national security.
Singapore rejected several recommendations claiming their inconsistency with efforts to ensure an “inclusive, cohesive, and resilient society.” We remind Singapore that inclusive, cohesive and resilient societies can only be built upon a strong foundation of respect for and guarantees of fundamental human rights and freedoms as enshrined in international human rights treaties. We also emphasise the UDHR’s intent that “human rights should be protected by the rule of law”.
We call on Singapore to work with civil society towards ratification of key international human rights treaties and revision or repeal of all laws that impose undue restrictions on fundamental freedoms in line with international human rights standards.
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