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ARTICLE 19 disappointed by government's failure to commit to greater free expression during UPR process

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - 26 Sept 2011 - ARTICLE 19 and MARUAH - a Singapore human rights group - expressed disappointment at the Singapore government's failure to commit to greater freedom of expression at the adoption of the working group report on its Universal Periodic Review on 22 September 2011, despite its recent pledge for change.

"As Singaporeans become more aware of their rights, the government can no longer use the excuse of preventing friction in a multi-cultural society to justify its control over the media and other forms of expression. The government of Singapore must substantiate its promise for change in governance style with concrete actions," said Dr. Agnes Callamard, ARTICLE 19 Executive Director.

Singapore accepted 84 of the 112 recommendations made by Member States at its first UN Human Rights Council review. However, recommendations regarding media freedom, and the protection and promotion of the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and association were rejected. In addition, Singapore has made no commitment to acceding to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Neither did Singapore show any intention in reviewing its defamation policy often used to suppress critical media, nor to repeal the Internal Security Act (ISA) which allows for detention without trial. Following the recent announcement by neighbouring Malaysia to scrap the ISA, a group of 16 former detainees has jointly written a statement calling for Singapore's ISA (which was inherited from Malaysia) to be abolished.

Braema Mathiaparanam of MARUAH, delivered an oral statement on behalf of ARTICLE 19 in which she urged the government to respect the people's wish for more say in policy-making and greater freedom for expression.

"We urge our government to focus on the civil and political rights of the people for the next UPR in four years' time and that is our key recommendation as an outcome of the first UPR exercise," said Braema Mathiaparanam, President of MARUAH.

The results of Singapore's General Election in May and the Presidential Election in August clearly indicate that Singaporeans are no longer satisfied with the lack of media freedom and their ability to fully exercise the right to freedom of expression.

Click here to read Braema Mathiaparanam's statement

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