Human Rights Watch (HRW) remarks are ‘false assertions’ and ‘inaccurate’, says Law Ministry

SINGAPORE – The Ministry of Law (MinLaw) has rebutted the comments of Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Singapore’s human rights record, describing HRW’s remarks as “false assertions” and “inaccurate”.

HRW had said in an article on its website on Monday that the Singapore Government should stop making “lame excuses” and “cease violating fundamental free expression rights citing self-serving historical and cultural justifications that only tarnish Singapore’s global image”, referring to Singapore’s submissions to the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review last year.

It also cited the use of preventive detention, the use of defamation suits to silence critics and tight media control among its concerns.

MinLaw said in a statement yesterday that HRW’s assertions were false. For example, while HRW had said that mandatory death sentences violate international law, “capital punishment is not prohibited by international law”, the ministry pointed out.

“A large number of countries, including many modern, developed countries (like the US) impose the punishment. In Singapore, capital punishment has contributed to low rates of crime and drug use; and is overwhelmingly supported by Singaporeans,” said Minlaw.

The HRW article had cited the case of British author Alan Shadrake, 76, who was convicted of contempt of court after parts of his book, Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock, had scandalised the judiciary.

MinLaw said: “Singapore’s Constitution guarantees the freedom of speech and freedom of peaceful assembly. The Shadrake trial, which your article mentions, was fully reported by local, international and alternative media. Mr Shadrake was charged because he had alleged, among other things, that the Singapore courts conspired with State agencies to suppress material evidence. Such a statement would be considered to be in contempt of court in several countries.”

It added: “HRW’s casual approach towards research and analysis, has been criticised by none other than its founder, Robert Bernstein, who has said that HRW ‘often relies on witnesses whose stories cannot be verified and who may testify for political advantage’.” Mr Bernstein’s remarks, referring to the Middle East conflict, were published in The New York Times in 2009. 

As for Singapore’s submissions to the Human Rights Council, MinLaw said HRW had dismissed them without dealing with them, and urged Singaporeans to read and “judge for themselves”.

It said: “Every society strikes its own balance between the rights of the individual and the society. National issues are openly debated in Parliament. Elections to Parliament are free and fair, and contested fiercely. Singapore’s stability, public healthcare, education and security have made it one of the most livable cities in the world: Singaporeans enjoy dignity, welfare and security – much more so than many cities and countries which HRW seems to be happier with.”

Link : Todayonline – HRW remarks are ‘false assertions’ and ‘inaccurate’, says Law Ministry


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One response to this post.

  1. Some countries like Singapore are clever enough to deny people the right to cause chaos and disrupt the lives of others going about their daily business.

    Who are HRW anyway? They’re just a bunch of self appointed imperialists and puppets of the US government who won’t be happy until every country is exactly the same as theirs.


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