|Caning in Singapore|
(Bangkok) – Singapore continued its strict controls on free association, expression, assembly, and other basic rights in 2012, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2013.
In its 665-page report, Human Rights Watch assessed progress on human rights during the past year in more than 90 countries, including an analysis of the aftermath of the Arab Spring.
In Singapore, the slight relaxation of mandatory death penalty laws and curbs on an opposition party leader did little to relieve the severe restrictions the government imposes on civil society, Human Rights Watch said.
“Singaporeans who hand out political leaflets or publicly criticize a senior official can face a gauntlet of punishments, including bankruptcy-inducing fines, travel bans, and prison terms,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “In Singapore, rights are only for those who reliably toe the government line.”
There were some small but important positive developments during 2012, Human Rights Watch said. In November 2012, parliament passed new laws permitting judges some degree of sentencing discretion for murder and drug-related offenses that had previously automatically triggered mandatory death penalties. Human Rights Watch opposes the death penalty in all circumstances.
“The international community should not be taken in by Singapore claims on human rights,” Robertson said. “Ask a rights advocate, an opposition activist, or a migrant worker what they think about today’s Singapore, and the repressive back-story of this glistening city-state will come out.”
Source: Human Rights Watch, February 1, 2013