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Experts of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Congratulate Singapore on Initial Report, and Ask about the Death Penalty and about Protection Against Discrimination for Migrant Workers

19 November 2021

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination today concluded its consideration of the initial report of Singapore during which its Experts congratulated the country on its submission of its initial report, and asked questions about the administration of the death penalty in the country, as well as asking about protection against discrimination for migrant workers.

On the issue of the administration of justice, the Committee was particularly concerned about information that racial minorities were overrepresented in the imposition of the death penalty. A Committee Expert asked if the delegation could provide statistics on racial minorities who had been executed or were on death row, compared to other racial groups. Another Committee Expert asked whether Singapore today was predisposed toward becoming abolitionist as regards the death penalty. Which measures were taken to prevent and combat the exploitation and abuse of migrant workers by their employers, including by ensuring their unhindered access to justice and effective remedies without fear of being arrested, detained, or deported?

Responding to those questions and comments, the delegation of Singapore noted that the death penalty was an important component of the criminal justice system. Accused persons could only be sentenced to the death penalty if their guilt had been proved in accordance with the law; race, nationality, and ethnic origin had no bearing on conviction and sentencing decisions. Singapore did not release data on the racial distribution of criminals that received the death penalty, but all persons were treated equally and accorded full due process under the law. Singapore was committed to ensuring the well-being of all foreign workers in the country, migrant domestic workers included. All domestic workers, local or foreign, were excluded from the Employment Act, given the nature of their work. In response to questions about medical checks, including for pregnancy and infectious diseases, the delegation said Singapore had various conditions attached to the granting of work permits to migrant workers, including health-related conditions. Work permit holders were required to undergo medical examinations, for their health and well-being, and that of the general population.

Mohamad Maliki bin Osman, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Second Minister for Education and Foreign Affairs and head of the delegation, presenting the report, said that Singapore placed great importance on the dialogue with the Committee. Singapore was a small, densely populated city-state with a diverse society comprising Malays, Chinese, Indians, Eurasians, and individuals from many other ethnicities. Its only resource was its people, and the country was firmly committed to the twin principles of multi-racialism and meritocracy.

The delegation of Singapore consisted of representatives of the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth; the Ministry of Education; the Ministry of Home Affairs; the Ministry of Manpower; the Ministry of Defence; the Attorney General’s Chambers; the Ministry of Law; the Ministry of National Development; the Singapore Police Force; and the Permanent Mission of Singapore to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

Documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, are available on the session webpage .

The webcast of the public meetings of the Committee can be found here.

The Committee will next meet in public on Monday, 22 November at 3 p.m. to begin its consideration of the combined fourth through eighth periodic reports of Thailand ( CERD/C/THA/4-8 ).

Report

The Committee has before it the initial report of Singapore ( CERD/C/SGP/1 ).

Presentation of the Report

MOHAMAD MALIKI BIN OSMAN, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Second Minister for Education and Foreign Affairs and head of the delegation, presenting the report, said that Singapore placed great importance on the dialogue with the Committee. Singapore was a small, densely populated city-state with a diverse society comprising Malays, Chinese, Indians, Eurasians and individuals from many other ethnicities. Its only resource was its people, and the country was firmly committed to the twin principles of multi-racialism and meritocracy.

Multi-racialism recognised the uniqueness and diversity of Singapore’s society. To achieve racial harmony, Singapore was sensitive to the needs of every ethnic community and made a deliberate effort to preserve their heritage and identity. At the same time, the country sought to expand common spaces among its communities and strengthen the shared sense of belonging among Singaporeans. Meritocracy ensured opportunities for all the country’s citizens, regardless of colour, creed or culture.

Singapore today enjoyed racial and religious harmony. However, the strong bonds of trust and respect that bound the country’s different communities today were not a given, especially in light of the immense diversity within the nation. The colonial government had accentuated differences and separation through policies such as marking out distinct housing zones for Chinese, Malay, Indian and European communities. When Singapore became independent in 1965, it had faced the challenge of uniting disparate racial and religious communities into one nation, and had experienced racial tensions in its early years. The country’s founders had championed a country where everyone stood as equals in a just and fair society for all races.

That vision had informed Singapore’s policy making today. Its approach was anchored on three pillars, the first of which was legislative safeguards. Singapore’s Constitution provided that all persons were equal before the law and entitled to equal protection of the law. The rights of minorities were protected by the Presidential Council for Minority Rights, which served as an independent safeguard against the enactment of racially discriminatory laws. The Presidential Council scrutinised bills passed in Parliament and subsidiary legislation to consider whether there would be any unequal disadvantage to persons of any racial or religious community. A strong legal framework deterred any individual or group attempting to cause racial conflict. Singapore had laws against the incitement of racial and religious hatred, as well as racially aggravated acts of violence. Institutional safeguards ensured that Parliament would always be multi-racial. The Presidential Elections Act was amended in 2016 to safeguard the representation of minority racial groups in the office of the President of Singapore. When a member from a racial community had not occupied the President’s office after five continuous terms, the next Presidential election would be reserved for a candidate from that racial community.

On the second pillar, Mr. Maliki Bin Osman said Singapore’s policies also protected the interests of ethnic minorities and fostered harmonious relations by maximising common space for all Singaporeans. About 80 per cent of the population lived in public housing. The Ethnic Integration Policy ensured a balanced mix of residents from the different ethnic groups and helped to prevent the formation of ethnic enclaves. Under that policy, a limit was set at the apartment block or building, and neighbourhood levels, for each ethnic group. Almost all Singaporean students were enrolled in national schools which promoted social mixing and engendered a shared Singapore identity from an early age. A bilingual policy allowed students to study their mother tongue or ethnic languages. In employment, all reports of discrimination were thoroughly looked into.

The third pillar involved partnering with communities to achieve racial harmony.

Religious extremism and radicalisation continued to be a concern, yet the fight was against extremism and violence, and not against any particular race, ethnicity or religion. Singapore worked to foster and strengthen relationships among the different communities, establishing platforms and mechanisms to seek and obtain public feedback on laws and policies. At the national level, the Government worked with religious and community leaders through the National Steering Committee on Racial and Religious Harmony on issues of social cohesion. There was an Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circle in every electoral constituency that brought leaders from different ethnic and religious communities together to organise common activities. The Government also worked with different ethnic communities through community organizations called Self Help Groups which helped provide culturally appropriate community-based assistance that complemented national schemes. In 2016, the Government had launched the “SG Secure” movement, which aimed to prepare the public in the event of a terrorist attack.

Singapore intended to enact a new Maintenance of Racial Harmony Act to consolidate all existing laws dealing with racial issues, and provide for additional measures to encourage reconciliation when differences arose. The COVID-19 pandemic had been a serious global challenge in the past two years, and Singapore’s efforts to build resilience had included all long-term residents in the country. Migrant workers staying in dormitories were one of the earlier groups prioritised for vaccination. Recent racially motivated incidents reported in Singapore with verbal and physical altercations taking place could be a result of the tense environment of restricted movements due to COVID-19. Such incidents had been condemned at the highest levels, with the Prime Minister making it clear that they went against everything that Singapore’s multi-racial society stood for. Social harmony of the kind Singapore currently enjoyed could only be sustained by conscientious effort and conscious choice. The Government remained committed to working with the community to safeguard and strengthen its racial and religious harmony and eliminate racial discrimination.

Questions from the Committee Experts

MARC BOSSUYT, Committee Vice-Chairperson and Country Rapporteur for Singapore, said that by submitting its initial report less than one year after the entry into force of the Convention against Torture, Singapore deserved special congratulations from the Committee. He noted that Singapore was unique in qualifying its approach to human rights as being “pragmatic” and “practical”. That was why it deserved particular attention to try to understand what was meant by the “pragmatic” or “practical” approach to human rights. Racial harmony in Singapore was anchored on the principles of the secular State, multi-racialism and meritocracy. From 1993 on, the President was elected by Singaporeans for a fixed term of six years, and voting was compulsory. As for the demographic composition of the country, Mr. Bossuyt noted that there were four official languages: Malay, Mandarin, Tamil and English. Which was the common language and the language of the administration? Life expectancy was high, and the literacy rate among residents was very high: 97 per cent. It would be interesting for the Committee to receive an update on the demographic composition of the population, in particular on the economic and social indicators of various groups living in the territory of the State party, if possible, disaggregated by sex, age and ethnic or national origin.

The Convention was not automatically part of domestic law, Mr. Bossuyt said, adding that the Committee would appreciate if Singapore would examine the possibility of incorporating the normative provisions of the Convention in its domestic legal order. Singapore employed several measures to benefit minority groups but those measures did not confer a separate set of rights that all Singaporeans had, regardless of race; the country should envisage the elaboration of specific anti-discrimination legislation.

Singapore differentiated State benefits accorded to Singaporeans and foreigners. Singaporeans received more public support and benefits compared to foreigners. Among foreigners, Singapore differentiated between permanent residents, who contributed substantially to Singapore, and non-residents, who had far fewer ties to the country. Migrant workers, regardless of nationality, were allowed to reside in Singapore within the validity period of their immigration pass or permit. Singapore had made a reservation allowing it to apply its policies concerning the admission and regulation of foreign work pass holders. The Committee would welcome information about the application of that reservation and about the need to maintain it, Mr. Bossuyt said.

Noting that the Presidential Council was chaired by the Chief Justice of Singapore, Mr. Bossuyt added that the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance had noted a potential conflict of interest between the dual role of the Chief Justice as head of an independent judiciary and as Chairperson of the Presidential Council. Were there any plans to adopt a comprehensive strategy and a national action plan to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance?

The Committee recommended the establishment of an independent national human rights institution that would fully comply with the Paris Principles, with adequate financial and human resources, and a specific mechanism for monitoring and evaluating progress in the implementation of the Convention. It also recommended that Singapore take measures that would facilitate the lodging of complaints of racial discrimination cases. The Committee would welcome information and statistics, disaggregated by the ethnic or national origin of the alleged victims, on complaints for acts of racial discrimination, racist hate speech and racist hate crimes, handled by the national courts or other relevant Singaporean institutions, as well as on the number of investigations, prosecutions and convictions of perpetrators and the reparations provided to victiMs. It would also be welcomed if judges, including the Syariah Court’s judges, prosecutors, lawyers and law enforcement officers were provided with training on the Convention. The Committee would appreciate receiving information on the eligibility criteria to access legal aid as well as on the number of persons who had received such aid for the purpose of filing a complaint of racial discrimination.

On the issue of the administration of justice, the Committee was particularly concerned about information that racial minorities were overrepresented in the imposition of the death penalty. Between 2015 and 2020, 44 individuals had been sentenced to the death penalty for drug offences. Of those, four were Chinese, three were Indian, and 37 were Malay. There were also reports of racially profiled stop-checks based on stereotypes about Indians and Malays. Drug use, for example, was framed as a Malay problem. Providing statistical data on police practices would be welcome. Singapore should be strongly encouraged to apply a moratorium on judicial executions. Corporal punishment should be prohibited.

GUN KUT, Committee Member and Follow-up Rapporteur for Singapore, noted that the Committee’s review procedure called for Singapore to respond, within the next year, to certain recommendations in the concluding observations, which would result from the ongoing dialogue.

Another Committee Expert noted that the Committee had looked forward to the dialogue with Singapore due to the country’s stated pragmatic and practical approach to human rights; it was an innovative country. One Committee Expert asked for statistics on racial minorities who had been executed or were on death row, compared to other racial groups. Another Committee Expert asked about the situation of migrant workers: what measures would be implemented to allow migrant workers to change employers, in particular those who had experienced and complained about abuses and exploitation? What measures would be taken to abolish the mandatory testing of migrant workers and to stop their deportation on the grounds of pregnancy or HIV positive status? A Committee Expert asked the delegation to expand upon how Singapore understood equality. One Committee Expert asked the delegation to elaborate on how Singapore understood the concept of discrimination. Another Committee Expert, with reference to the death penalty, asked whether Singapore today was predisposed toward becoming abolitionist? Could the delegation inform about the situation of human rights defenders and the media?

A Committee Expert noted that the submission of an initial report was challenging for any State party. The delegation of Singapore had come to listen to the Committee and learn from its Committee Members.

Responses from the Delegation

The delegation thanked the Committee Experts for sharing their perspectives, and for their responses to the country’s initial report. Because of Singapore’s unique circumstances, it would lose as a society if racial discrimination prevailed. The elimination of racial discrimination, and attainment of racial harmony, was in Singapore’s interest. The society was evolving, and demographic changes were taking place; Singapore would respond accordingly. Singapore was committed to achieving better outcomes for its people, and believed in the key pillars of meritocracy and multi-racialism. The country’s approach to human rights was premised on the fact that human rights did not exist in a vacuum, but in a cultural, social, economic, and historical context.

Singapore had a mutually reinforcing system of legislation, institutional oversight, community engagement and public education to protect human rights and address racial discrimination. Singapore incorporated the principles and provisions of the Convention within its legislation and policies. The principle of the equality of all persons before the law was enshrined in the Constitution. That was the supreme law in Singapore. The possibility of an independent human rights institution had been highlighted by Mr. Bossuyt. Singapore did have a strong system of institutional oversight. Tackling racial discrimination required more than just government enacting laws and implementing policies; the real solution was to change social attitudes.

The Presidential Council for Minority Rights was an important safeguard against the Government implementing discriminatory laws. The Council was part of a system of checks in place demonstrating Singapore’s commitment to racial and religious equality. In response to Mr. Bossuyt’s question about a potential conflict of interest between the dual role of the Chief Justice as head of the judiciary and the Chair of the Presidential Council for Minority Rights, the delegation explained that the function of the judiciary was of a different nature from that of the Council. The judiciary interpreted the law and decided whether the law or policy was unconstitutional. The Council’s function was to consider whether a law or policy constituted a differentiating measure that was disadvantageous to persons of any racial or religious community in Singapore.

In response to questions about eligibility criteria for legal aid, the delegation explained that government-funded legal aid schemes covered both civil and criminal cases, and were available to Singapore citizens and permanent residents who passed means and merits tests. All persons facing capital charges were offered legal representation without any means of testing or other eligibility criteria.

In response to questions about the death penalty, the delegation said it was an important component of the criminal justice system. Capital punishment was used in limited circumstances for the most serious crimes. Singapore’s laws applied equally to all, and those who broke the laws could not expect differentiated treatment based on race or nationality. Accused persons could only be sentenced to the death penalty if their guilt had been proved in accordance with the law; race, nationality, and ethnic origin had no bearing on conviction and sentencing decisions. Singapore did not release data on the racial distribution of criminals that received the death penalty, but all persons were treated equally and accorded full due process under the law. Several Committee Members had asked whether Singapore would consider a moratorium on executions and abolish the death penalty, the delegation said, adding that international law did not prohibit the death penalty, and the use of capital punishment was an issue that every country had the sovereign right to decide for itself. The death penalty had been an effective deterrent against the most serious crimes in Singapore, such as murder and trafficking of significant quantities of drugs.

Turning to statistics on hate crimes and hate speech, the delegation explained that the comprehensive legal framework comprising of the Penal Code, the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act, the Societies Act, and the Undesirable Publications Act served to deter hate crimes and hate speech. Depending on the facts and circumstances of each case, offenders might be charged and convicted in accordance with prescribed laws and due process. As for Singapore’s prison population, all prisoners were treated fairly and equally, regardless of their race, language, religion or nationality. Legislation and regulation guided prison practices. In response to questions about whether drug use was framed as a Malay problem, that was certainly not the case. Singapore sought to tackle the problem of drugs comprehensively and did not seek to frame the problem of drugs across any racial lines. Statistics on drug abuse that revealed that it was a more prevalent challenge for certain communities allowed the Government to partner with the community to address the challenges with more tailored approaches.

Follow-up Questions from Committee Experts

MARC BOSSUYT, Committee Vice-Chairperson and Country Rapporteur for Singapore, asked for further information about Singapore’s use of the death penalty. Drug abuse was a very serious problem in many societies, but he did not believe the death penalty was needed to protect people who would otherwise be victims of drugs. In the context of Singapore, there was a minority ethnic problem. Malay made up 13 per cent of the population, yet figures showed that they made up 84 per cent of executions for drug trafficking. That was a gross disproportionality. There had to be a reason to explain that difference. Could the delegation clarify whether those executed were citizens of Singapore of Malay ethnicity, or were they also foreigners from Malaysia?

Another Committee Expert asked how Singapore evaluated the situation of civil society organizations and human rights defenders in the country? One Committee Expert asked for a clarification on the availability of legal aid. Who was considered to be a permanent resident, and was thus entitled to such aid? A Committee Expert noted that as regards human rights and media, a shrinking of the space of liberty was being seen. In Singapore, protests could only take place in one area. Could the space for freedom of expression be broadened?

Questions from the Committee Experts

MARC BOSSUYT, Committee Vice-Chairperson and Country Rapporteur for Singapore, noted that Singapore’s Sedition Act made it illegal “to promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races or classes of the population of Singapore”. In 2007, an amendment had been introduced in the Penal Code to criminalize behaviour that knowingly promoted or tried to promote disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between different religious or racial groups. It had been reported that the amendment had a chilling effect on freedom of expression, especially regarding discussions on race and racism.

Turning to the situation of ethno-religious minority groups, Mr. Bossuyt said that the Committee would like to be informed of the latest statistics, if possible disaggregated by ethnicity and sex, indicating the level of fulfilment of economic, social and cultural rights among ethno-religious minority groups, including access to employment, education, housing, social security and health services. The Committee would further welcome more information and data on the representation of ethno-religious groups in State institutions, including the armed forces, the police and the judiciary, and the public administration at all levels.

Singapore’s legal system was predominantly based on common law, but certain aspects of Islamic personal law were applied to members of the Muslim community, which was nearly exclusively composed of Malays. The Committee would like to know what steps were undertaken to review the Administration of Muslim Law Act in order to harmonize it with civil law by removing all exceptions to the prohibition of marriage of girls under 18 years of age; banning polygamy; ensuring that women and men had equal rights to divorce; guaranteeing equal rights of women in all matters of inheritance; and providing for the equal choice of adjudication between religious and civil law regimes.

Turning to the situation of non-citizens, including migrants, refugees, asylum-seekers and stateless persons, the expert noted that a non-governmental organization serving the needs of the low-wage migrant worker community had submitted an interesting report, according to which there were about 250,000 migrant domestic workers in Singapore. While working conditions in Singapore were governed by the Employment Act, migrant domestic workers were not covered by it, but by the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act. Migrant domestic workers were denied basic labour rights, such as public holidays, annual leave, sick leave, and the right to redress for wrongful dismissal. Some female workers were subjected to six-monthly mandatory medical examinations, where they were screened for infectious diseases such as syphilis, HIV, and tuberculosis, as well as for pregnancy. If they did not pass the medical screening, their work permit was cancelled, and they were immediately repatriated. Some 300,000 construction, marine and process workers were not allowed to switch employers.

The non-governmental organization report also contained a number of valuable recommendations, said the expert, singling out some: to extend the Employment Act to cover migrant domestic workers; to repeal the law which resulted in the deportation of pregnant migrant domestic workers; to take measures to combat wage discrimination based on nationality; to allow freedom of employment mobility; to enforce stricter penalties for employers who allowed abusive working and living conditions; and to allow migrant workers to form their own associations and trade unions.

Further concerning the issue of the employment of migrant workers, the Committee would like to know which measures had been taken to prevent and combat the exploitation and abuse of migrant workers by their employers, including by ensuring their unhindered access to justice and effective remedies without fear of being arrested, detained or deported. The Committee would also like to receive information and data, disaggregated by the ethnic or national origin of the alleged victims, on complaints for acts of labour exploitation of migrants, as well as on the number of investigations, prosecutions and convictions of perpetrators and the reparations provided to victims.

Noting that Singapore had no legislation on the determination of refugee status and on the way of dealing with asylum applications, Mr. Bossuyt said that the Committee would like to receive statistics, disaggregated by nationality of the applicant, on asylum claims filed and granted. Could all Singaporean mothers transmit their citizenship to their children? Could children born in Singapore who could not acquire another nationality automatically acquire Singaporean nationality? The Committee would also welcome statistics on the number of stateless persons in Singapore.

Another Committee Expert asked about Singapore’s regulations around the wearing of head scarves in the private and public sector. What were legitimate reasons for private employers to prohibit their employees from wearing the head scarf? How did Singapore ensure that an employer’s decision to ban headscarves was not based on discriminatory stereotypes or motives? How did Singapore ensure that the headscarf bans both in the public and private sector did not excessively impair the rights of women—in particular, Muslim women—to fully participate in society and their right to access employment? Another Committee Expert asked how the educational curriculum promoted intercultural understanding and respect for diversity. Question was asked if it was true that migrants had been confined to dormitories since May 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic situation had become serious.

Responses from the Delegation

In response to questions around the right to exercise freedom of expression and assembly, the delegation explained that those were fundamental liberties guaranteed under the Constitution. Yet, as recognized under international law, those were not unfettered rights. Singapore aimed to balance the right to freedom of assembly and the right to safety and security, on one hand, with the right of people to go about their business, on the other. With regard to the freedom of speech and expression, Singapore’s laws aimed to keep discourse on race and religion free from hate and offensive speech. The balance Singapore sought to strike allowed the country to tackle hate speech, or racial derogatory speech, but did not prohibit speech on race which did not cross into such territory.

In response to questions about the death penalty, the delegation said that capital punishment was applied in accordance with the law and with due process. Singapore sought to tackle the drug menace comprehensively, regardless of race, colour, nationality, or ethnicity. Drugs were a more prevalent challenge for some communities, and the Government sought to partner with the communities to address such challenges head-on. In response to questions about racialized hate speech, incitement to racial hatred and hate crimes, Singapore’s laws against hate crime and speech were consistent with the Convention, said the delegation.

The delegation further noted that Singapore was committed to ensuring the well-being of all foreign workers in the country, migrant domestic workers included. All domestic workers, local or foreign, were excluded from the Employment Act, given the nature of their work. Migrant domestic workers were protected under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, and the Employment Agencies Act. In response to questions about medical checks, including for pregnancy and infectious diseases, the delegation said that Singapore had various conditions attached to the granting of work permits to migrant workers, including health-related conditions. Work permit holders were required to undergo medical examinations, for their health and well-being, and that of the general population. Migrant workers’ health and safety had been Singapore’s priority at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in the dormitories. Due to communal living conditions, vaccination of that group of workers had been prioritized, yet transmission was still rapid. Singapore had progressively eased measures for them to go into their communities, a process which continued.

In response to questions about vulnerable groups, the delegation noted that Committee Experts had asked about participation of ethnic minority groups in public life. Throughout public service, meritocracy was practiced in employment practices. In general, religious attire could be worn, and was worn, in many shared community workplaces, but there were some contexts in which there were imperatives which were an exception to that norm. In an educational context, the school uniform served as a symbol of common identity, without distinctions of race, religion, or social status. In response to questions about the administration of the Muslim Law Act in the areas of marriage, divorce and inheritance, the delegation underscored that Singapore was committed to moving toward a progressive understanding and practice of Islam.

Responding to questions about the minority communities, particularly the Malay community, and the Committee’s concern about them, the delegation explained that Singapore took a holistic and needs-based approach to help families and individuals in need, not just those who were Malay, but also those from all other races.

Follow-up Questions

YANDUAN LI, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation for their pertinent replies, and noted that they provided profound information about how Singapore implemented the Convention.

MARC BOSSUYT, Committee Vice-Chairperson and Country Rapporteur for Singapore, welcomed the many replies received and invited other members of the Committee to pose questions.

GUN KUT, Committee Member and Follow-up rapporteur for Singapore, thanked the delegation for the extensive and candid information and comments they had provided to the Committee. On the issue of capital punishment, it was odd that the principle of sovereignty had been invoked, as it was obviously not challenged by the Committee. What was being challenged was an approach in law and in justice, which the Committee had done for all similar cases. The Committee did not compare States parties with each other, but looked for improvement between reports by individual States parties. Small improvements were possible, and they were cumulative; the success of States parties was also the success of the Committee.

A Committee Expert asked the delegation to share how it would follow up to the concluding observations, which would be issued. Another Committee Expert asked about the situation for human rights defenders; did Singapore envisage reform of the law on protection against falsehoods or manipulation online?

Follow-up Responses from the Delegation

The delegation responded that the the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act was used to counter falsehoods which exploited prejudices and undermined constructive debate. The law did not seek to limit ability to raise legitimate concerns about racial discrimination. Freedom of expression was a constitutionally protected right in Singapore.

Concluding Remarks

YANDUAN LI, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation and the Committee for the dialogue, which had been frank and constructive.

MARC BOSSUYT, Committee Vice-Chairperson and Country Rapporteur for Singapore, agreed that it had been a frank and constructive dialogue, and thanked the delegation for providing so many answers. It was hoped that the experience of the initial dialogue had been useful. Singapore was invited to take the risk of a moratorium on the death penalty; such a measure would not be final, nor an encroachment on the sovereignty of the State party.

MOHAMAD MALIKI BIN OSMAN, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Second Minister for Education and Foreign Affairs and head of the delegation, thanked the Committee for the opportunity to present Singapore’s first report. The dialogue had been fruitful, and the delegation had learnt much from the exchanges. The discussion with the Committee allowed Singapore to reflect on its approach and take its efforts forward. Singapore was committed to the elimination of racial discrimination.


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