2 Mar 2007

Amnesty International's Singapore update

Amnesty International
2 Mar 07


In the midst of serious developments, there is some good news: concern and action are increasing within Singapore and among the international community - and at high levels. A still small but growing number of courageous Singaporeans refuse to remain silent and are speaking out about their right to enjoy fundamental human rights. In particular, they are actively and openly opposing continuing executions and Singapore's tight restrictions on freedom of expression.

However, several Singaporean human rights campaigners are still paying a great price, Dr Chee Soon Juan foremost amongst them, and facing imprisonment, bankruptcy and the threat of further lawsuits.

But their actions are now supported by many more in the international community, the latest being an invitation by the Italian government to prominent opposition leader Dr Chee Soon Juan to speak in Rome - an invitation he is prevented from taking up as the Singapore authorities refuse to give him a travel permit.

As the international media covers developments, foreign critics are watching the moves against the Far Eastern Economic Review, now facing a suit for defamation filed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, following the journal's favourable article on Dr Chee Soon Juan.

The use of the judicial system against Singapore's opposition and the responsibility of judges is increasingly questioned in the international community. Francis Seow's latest book, Beyond Suspicion? The Singapore Judiciary, is published at a time when Dr Chee and his colleagues face a barrage of suits and when two more executions take place after appeals fail and questions are raised about international trial standards. The planned annual meeting in Singapore of the International Bar Association is facing very critical reactions.

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