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The Ministry of Home Affairs’s Internal Security Department of Singapore enforces the country's Internal Security Act (ISA) as a counter to potential espionage, international terrorism, threats to racial and religious harmony, and subversion. The ISA permits indefinite detention without formal charges or recourse to trial and has been used to imprison political opponents, including Chia Thye Poh, who was held for 32 years without trial before being released. As of 2005, 36 men are being held under the ISA.[1]

According to the U.S. Department of State’s 2004 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, the government maintains effective control over all security activities, and there have been no reports of human rights abuses by security forces. The government generally respects the human rights of its citizens. However, the government has broad powers to limit citizen rights and to handicap the political opposition. In 2007, Singapore ranked 141th out of 167 nations by Reporters Without Borders in the Worldwide Press Freedom Index. Government pressure to conform has resulted in the practice of self-censorship by journalists.[2]

Singapore uses the death penalty extensively and has, according to Amnesty International, the world's highest execution rate relative to population size.[1] The government has contested Amnesty's assertion that this constitutes violation of human rights. Caning, in addition to imprisonment, remains a routine punishment for numerous offenses. Internment has been used to deal with espionage, terrorism, organized crime, and narcotics. Citizens’ privacy rights occasionally have been infringed, and the government has restricted freedom of speech and freedom of the press and has limited other civil and political rights. Censorship of sexual, political and racially or religiously sensitive content is extensive.

Singapore does not offer a civilian service alternative to two-year compulsory military service. Four conscientious objectors, all members of the banned religious group Jehovah's Witnesses, were imprisoned in 2004.[1]

Singapore is against euthanasia and mercy killing is not legalized in this country.

Freedom in the World 2006 ranked Singapore 5 out of 7 for political freedom, and 4 out of 7 for civil liberties (where 1 is the most free), with an overall ranking of "partly free".

See also


  1. ^ a b c Amnesty International Report 2005: Singapore [1]
  2. ^ Text used in this cited section originally came from: the Singapore profile (May 2005) of the Library of Congress Country Studies project.


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