15 Mar 2007

SDP proposes session on Singapore to IBA

From the SDP 14 March 2007

Mark Ellis
Executive Director
International Bar Association

Dear Mr Ellis,

Thank you for your reply. (see below)

It seems that the IBA cannot be persuaded to change its mind about holding its annual conference in Singapore. As much as I disagree with the decision I recognise that it is your prerogative to choose where you want to stage your conferences.

I am encouraged that you "intend to provide the opportunity, in Singapore rather than remotely, for robust discussions among our large and influential membership and all other delegates and media, on the rule of law as well as on many other aspects of international and cross-border legal practice."

However, it is unclear whether a session will be specifically put aside to discuss the situation in Singapore. To avoid any misunderstanding, may I propose that:

One, given the seriousness of the abuse of human rights in Singapore, the program on the Rule of Law Day include a session solely dedicated to discussing the situation in the city-state. I note that in your 2006 Annual Conference in Chicago, you had a session entitled Guantanamo Bay – where rights end? where you specifically addressed "interrogation techniques; detention conditions; restrictions on access to lawyers and families; and the exclusion of the detainees from regular judicial and legal processes" of Guantanamo prisoners detained by the US Government. The session also considered "the impact of US Court rulings and the imperatives of national security." Could a similar session be done on Singapore at the conference in October?

Two, victims of the Singapore Government's persecution be invited to speak so that your participants can hear first-hand the goings-on that have been occurring in Singapore.

Three, this particular session be open to the Singaporean public as discussions of this nature hardly ever takes place here. This will be a precious public education service for Singaporeans.

Four, more than just a discussion on the problems of the rule of law in Singapore may I also suggest that be some time put aside to consider concrete proposals to improve the rule of law situation here.

I hope you will address these four proposals in your next letter.

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