Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Suppressing dissent in Singapore: Human Rights Watch's World Report 2011

Quoting Human Rights Watch on Singapore in 2010:

In November 2010 British author and journalist Alan Shadrake (Wikipedia) was found guilty on charges of "scandalizing the judiciary" and sentenced to  six weeks in jail in addition to a fine and court costs. He claimed in his book, Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock (reviewed here), that Singapore's mandatory death penalty for murder, treason, and some 20 drug trafficking-related offenses is not being applied as equitably as the government contends. Shadrake's book concludes that the judicial process is subject to political and economic pressures, including from the ruling party, and biased against the "weak," "poor," or "less-educated." During the trial, the prosecution warned media outlets that publicizing Shadrake's allegations could lead to charges against them.

Government authorities continue to closely regulate public meetings, demonstrations, and processions. In May 2010 Vincent Cheng (Wikipedia), held under the Internal Security Act in 1987 as the alleged leader of a Marxist conspiracy, agreed for the first time to speak publicly about his treatment in detention at a seminar, Singapore's History: Who Writes the Script, organized by students from the History Society of the National University of Singapore. The National Library Board, the venue's sponsor, however, rescinded the invitation and the event went ahead without Cheng's participation.

A lower court's 2009 acquittal of three leaders and two supporters of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) charged with conducting a procession without a permit became in 2010 yet another setback for free assembly when a high court reversed the decision on appeal. Siok Chin Chee, a member of the central committee of the SDP, was sentenced to five short jail terms in 2010 for distributing political flyers without a permit.

(Comments on Singapore's human rights)

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