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Singapore's Human Rights, Singaporeans For Democracy

SFD public consultation on electoral system this Sat 2nd Oct/Singapore to submit human rights report

Singaporeans for Democracy is organising a public consultation on Singapore’s electoral system this Sat 2nd Oct, 3-6pm, Post-Museum, 107+109 Rowell Road (click here for directions)…

SFD will be submitting a special report on Singapore’s electoral system towards this process. All those who want improvements to Singapore’s electoral system should attend this public consultation. SFD will listen to your inputs during this consultation and summarise them into a report that will be submitted to the United Nation’s Universal Periodic Review process….continue reading

Click on image to go to the facebook event page

S’pore to submit human rights report

UN review of Republic’s record next May is part of ongoing process covering all members

By Cassandra Chew, Straits Times, 30 Sept 2010

SINGAPORE’S human rights record will come under scrutiny for the first time by the United Nations next May, a move that will show how the country stacks up in this area.

It may be asked, among other questions, about its rules on employment and housing, as well as press freedom and the use of the death penalty by members of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva.

The review, however, is not unique to Singapore. It is part of a UN effort introduced two years ago to examine the human rights records of all its 192 member-states. So far, 128 states’ records have been examined.

According to the UN website, Singapore is among 16 countries due for the Universal Periodic Review in May next year. The process is held every four years.

The three-hour session with the HRC will be more of a dialogue, as the Republic’s representatives are free to respond to questions posed or comments made.

Before the meeting, it will submit, by February, a national human rights report to the HRC. The UN said the report should state, among other things, how the Government protects and promotes human rights, and the challenges and constraints it faces in doing so. In addition, it has to state how the Government plans to do better in protecting human rights.

The report is now being prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which will consult civil society groups and government agencies on it, said Ambassador-at-Large Ong Keng Yong, who is overseeing the consultation process.

Although he declined to elaborate, various groups are expected to be consulted on issues such as the Aids virus, disabilities, migrant workers and women’s and children’s rights.

Apart from the national report, civil society groups may also send in reports to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Their deadline is November this year.

At least three groups are planning to do so.

They are: Maruah, the Singapore working group of the region-wide Working Group for an Asean Human Rights Mechanism, advocacy group the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home) and political association Singaporeans For Democracy (SFD).

Maruah is working on a broad report on human rights, while Home plans to highlight foreign worker issues. SFD’s report will be on the electoral system.

Besides these reports, HRC members may also refer to reports by independent experts and other UN bodies in deciding if a country has upheld its obligations under the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

After the review, the HRC will produce a report. It will include recommendations which countries are expected to implement before their next review in four years’ time.

International law experts said the review is a milestone for Singapore, as it will show its position on human rights and whether changes have to be made.

Said associate fellow Mahdev Mohan of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, a think-tank: ‘The report will be a rare and unprecedented expression of how and whether Singapore, as a sovereign state, feels it has adhered to human rights law, and the ways in which it may refine or calibrate its laws and practices, moving forward.’

As for the Government’s response to the process, Dr Kevin Tan, an adjunct law professor at the National University of Singapore, said: ‘With a report out there, it is subject to scrutiny and interrogation, and that is a good thing because it is a form of accountability.’

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