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FIDH oral statement on plenary consideration of UPR outcome report of Singapore

Oral Statement by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) on the occasion of the consideration of the Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review of Singapore

22 September 2011, 18th Session of the Human Rights Council

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) is deeply disappointed that Singapore rejected 27 key recommendations, especially those on the full protection of civil and political rights. FIDH is alarmed that certain statements made by Singapore seem to suggest that, in particular, the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly can be subjected to “trade-offs” according to other considerations based on broadly and vaguely defined grounds.

FIDH is further disappointed that a number of States, such as Algeria, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Vietnam, and Uzbekistan, focused exclusively on heaping vague congratulations on Singapore’s economic prowess while failing to put forth concrete, action-oriented and substantive recommendations.

FIDH welcomes recommendations to review, amend or repeal deeply flawed legislations and their implementation that restrict the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, as well as that to be free from arbitrary detention and to receive a fair trial. We recommend that the government de-criminalize defamation and seriously reform laws such as the Newspaper and Printing Presses Act, Public Order Act and the Undesirable Publications Act to ensure they are in compliance with international standards. We further recommend that Singapore respect fundamental freedoms in practice by, as a first step, being more tolerant of criticism and opposition.

FIDH deeply regrets that Singapore rejected recommendations for the abolition of the death penalty and corporal punishment, in total disregard for the global trend towards universal abolition. The fact that the death penalty is even mandatory for offences such as the possession of illegal drugs beyond a certain quantity stands in flagrant contradiction of the government's claim that capital punishment is “only imposed for the most serious crimes”. FIDH calls on Singapore to repeal all provisions that provide for mandatory death sentencing and to implement an immediate moratorium on the use of capital punishment, with the aim being its eventual abolition.

While FIDH takes note of the statement by Singapore that it is “committed to the promotion and protection of human rights,” we believe this commitment has not been fully realized and that Singapore still needs to take substantive steps before it can credibly characterize itself as a healthy democracy. We therefore recommend Singapore to reconsider its position on the recommendations not accepted and take measures to implement them.