Skip to main content

Advertisement

Advertisement

S’pore highlights ‘pragmatic’ approach in rights review

SINGAPORE — The Republic presented its national report on human rights to the United Nations (UN) as part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), in Geneva yesterday (Jan 27), during which some delegations recommended that Singapore abolish the death penalty, caning, detention without trial, and Section 377A of the Penal Code.

Migrant workers gather at an open field at Little India on Nov 29, 2015. TODAY file photo

Migrant workers gather at an open field at Little India on Nov 29, 2015. TODAY file photo

Follow us on Instagram and Tiktok, and join our Telegram channel for the latest updates.

SINGAPORE — The Republic presented its national report on human rights to the United Nations (UN) as part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), in Geneva yesterday (Jan 27), during which some delegations recommended that Singapore abolish the death penalty, caning, detention without trial, and Section 377A of the Penal Code.

Several delegations also called on Singapore to consider acceding to more human rights treaties, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in a statement today.

The UPR looks at the human rights records of all 193 UN member states every four and a half years. During the review, a national report is submitted by the country under review, as well as by civil society organisations, and the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Among the Singapore civil societies that submitted reports were Transient Workers Count Too, Human Rights Watch and the Alliance of Like-Minded CSOs in Singapore (ALMOS), which represents the Association of Women for Action and Research, Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (HOME) and Function 8, among others.

These groups raised a range of issues, from the need for better protection for migrant workers, to restrictions on the media, to concerns over laws like the Internal Security Act.

The MFA said several delegations praised Singapore’s measures to improve the situation of migrant workers in Singapore, but recommended it do more to protect their rights.

The Singapore delegation, led by Ambassador-at-Large Professor Chan Heng Chee, responded to the various recommendations by explaining the context and rationale of policies particular to Singapore on these issues.

Prof Chan also presented Singapore’s national report by explaining the underlying philosophy and pragmatic approach behind Singapore’s policies, and highlighted the new policies that had been implemented to enhance social protection for Singaporeans, especially the vulnerable. These include MediShield Life, the Pioneer Generation Package and an Enabling Masterplan for Persons with Disabilities.

Singapore has also signed the International Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, acceded to the UN Trafficking In Persons Protocol, and ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

In her opening remarks, Prof Chan acknowledged that Singapore’s principles of governance and policies “may not fully conform to how other societies have organised themselves”. “We respect their point of view, given each society’s unique circumstances. However, our view is that we have to take a practical and not an ideological approach to the realisation of human rights,” she said. “We believe that rights, and people’s approach to and understanding thereof, evolve over time as their societies change.”

In recent times, countries in the West have had to review their more liberal policies because “they proved inadequate in dealing with contemporary manifestations of terrorism, extremism and immigration”.

In a statement, Prof Chan said the delegation had “a good UPR”, noting 113 delegations spoke, which is “very high interest for a small country”.

In a Facebook post later, Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan noted that there were the “usual recommendations” made at the UPR, urging Singapore to abolish the death penalty and to sign more human rights conventions.

“But we reminded them that every society is unique and has to formulate its own strategy,” he wrote.

“We have managed to build an inclusive Singapore and to uplift the lives of all Singaporeans through a careful balance of diverse interests. This is an ongoing process, to protect and promote the human rights of all Singaporeans, with the ultimate goal of achieving happiness, prosperity and progress for our nation,” Dr Balakrishnan added.

Read more of the latest in

Advertisement

Popular

Advertisement

Stay in the know. Anytime. Anywhere.

Subscribe to get daily news updates, insights and must reads delivered straight to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, I agree for my personal data to be used to send me TODAY newsletters, promotional offers and for research and analysis.