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Human Rights Council – Universal Periodic Review

For use of information media; not an official record

Date: Thursday, 06 May 2011 (Morning)

Country under review:  Singapore

Documents: National report A/HRC/WG.6/11/SGP/1;
Compilation of UN information A/HRC/WG.6/11/SGP/2;
Summary of stakeholders’ information A/HRC/WG.6/11/SGP/3;

Troika: Spain, Bahrain, Djibouti

Concerned country - national report

- Represented by a 9 member delegation and headed by his Excellency Mr. Ong Keng Yong, Ambassador-at-Large.  

Highlights

- Life expectancy is now 81 years, compared to 60 years at the moment of Singapore’s independence.
- Equal treatment of all minority groups.
- Women have the same educational, employment and career development opportunities as men.
- Every Singaporean has equal access to education, health care and work.
- Protection of the rights of specific groups such as women, children, disabled persons, aged persons and migrant workers is ensured.
- Singapore should be able to accede to the Disabilities Convention by 2012.

Interactive discussion

Number of States taking part in the discussion
Member States: 15         Inscribed on the list: 92
Observer States: 39         No oral interventions: 38

Positive achievements

- Positive steps taken by the Government to ensure racial and religious harmony.
- Improvement in living standards.
- Efficient health care system.
- Secure housing projects and self-reliant social security system.
- Implementation of a specific constitutional clause for the protection of all minorities.
- Migrant workers fully enjoy their rights.
- Singapore is party to many Conventions and fully participated in the implementation of regional and international human rights legal instruments.
- The United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Index has ranked Singapore as the twenty-third out of 182 countries.
- A literacy rate of 96 per cent, making the country an example of success in education.
- Country with less corruption in the world.

Issues and questions raised

- Considerable restrictions on public discourse on the issues of ethnicity, language, race, religion, and politically sensitive issues.
- Freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
- Death penalty is still applicable.
- UN Special Rapporteur on racism and xenophobia expressed concerns about migrants and the living and working conditions of migrant workers.
- Abolishment of corporal punishment for immigration offenders.
- Provide more information on how the country is preparing for an important demographic trend of ageing population, especially in social security benefits.
- Is the Government going to take action to ratify any of the other core international human rights treaties to which it is not yet a party?
- Is the Government considering steps to bring Singapore into compliance with international human rights norms with regard to the death penalty?
- Is Singapore willing to repeal laws which criminalize gay persons?
- Would Singapore be willing to review the newspaper and printing press act to relax its control over the media?

Recommendations
 
- To become a party to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination, the Optional Protocol to the Convention of the Rights to the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, International Labour Convention 87 on Freedom of Association, International Labour Office Convention on Maritime Labor and the Convention on the Abolition of Forced Labour.
- To ratify the Palermo Protocol to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.
- To strengthen measures to promote the human rights of migrant domestic workers, including by seeking to further improve working conditions of domestic workers, and from any kind of exploitation.
- To consider enhancing cooperation with countries of origin of migrant workers.
- To intensify its efforts to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women, inter-alia by advocating and promoting women’s empowerment, and through capacity-building and gender-sensitivity training.
- To ensure the representation of women in public and private sectors at senior levels.
- To establish an effective and inclusive process to follow-up on the recommendations emerging from the Universal Periodic Review.
- To establish a national human rights institution in compliance with the Paris Principles.
- To strengthen the protection of victims of trafficking and provide them with temporary shelters during legal proceedings; to support witness protection programmes and to provide appropriate remedial measures other than deportation.
- To strictly enforce relevant regulations including the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act and the Passport Act.
- To circulate and implement  the UN Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non- Custodial Measures for Women Offenders.
- To ensure the effective implementation of the recommendations of the Enabling Master Plan 2007-2011.
- To end all practices of corporal punishments up in educational institutions and in detention centers.
- To follow-up to the processes to the 2001 World Conference against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance.
- To declare an immediate moratorium on executions with the aim of abolishing the death penalty.
- To make available statistics and other factual information pertaining to the use of the death penalty.

Response of the concerned country

- All children including those with disabilities have access to education.
- Cooperation between different countries to combat trafficking.
- Social assistance is provided to victims of trafficking.
- Child prostitution and pornography is one of the highest concerns of the Government.
- Pre-trial detention is an exception in national legislation, but with safeguards included on the entirely process.
- Detainees have access to medical and social services.
- Internal security act has been used for internal regulations after 11 September 2001 in the fight against terrorism and all forms of violent extremisms.
- Regarding sexual orientation, people are free to choose their life-style. No actions would be taken against same-sex relationships unless they go against other law, such as indecent conduct in public.
- Action has been taken to ensure the well-treatment of women prisoners.
- Constitutional law ensures the enjoyment of the right to freedom of assembly and expression. - Freedom of expression is protected under national law unless it includes serious defamation.
- Capital punishment is only imposed after a judicial process and for serious crimes. Death penalty enjoys the support by most Singapore’s citizens.
- Singapore has worked closely with ASEAN countries to protect women and children’s rights.
- Singapore has received visits from different UN bodies’ representatives and is open for future human rights monitoring visits.
- On the issues of international obligations: the fact that Singapore is not a party to all the conventions mentioned does not mean that most conventions’ principles and regulations are not part of its national legislation.

Adoption of the report by the UPR working group scheduled on
Tuesday 10 May, 12:30 p.m.

More information

ADOPTION OF THE REPORT ON THE SEYCHELLES

The Universal Periodic Review Working Group today also adopted, ad referendum, the report on the Seychelles (A/HRC/WG.6/11/L.5), following the review of that country on Wednesday, 4 May 2011.

The draft report includes 77 recommendations.  These will be considered by the Government of Seychelles which will provide responses in due time, but no later than at the eighteenth session of the Human Rights Council in September 2011.

The report will be made available here: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/PAGES/SCSession11.aspx

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