Human Rights Watch

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Singapore: Laws Chill Free Speech, Assembly

End Repressive Prosecutions, Regulations, and Civil Suits

Wednesday 13 December 2017

(Kuala Lumpur, December 13, 2017) – The Singapore government’s use of overly broad criminal laws, oppressive regulations, and civil lawsuits severely curtails freedom of speech and assembly, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. 

“Singapore promotes itself as a modern nation and a good place to do business, but people in a country that calls itself a democracy shouldn’t be afraid to criticize their government or speak out about political issues,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Direct and indirect restrictions on speech and public protest have long stifled debate on matters of public interest in Singapore.”

The 133-page report, “‘Killing the Chicken to Scare the Monkeys’: Suppression of Free Expression and Assembly in Singapore,” is based on an in-depth analysis of the laws and regulations used by the Singapore government to suppress speech and peaceful assembly, including the Public Order Act, the Sedition Act, the Broadcasting Act, various penal code provisions, and laws on criminal contempt. Drawing on interviews with 34 civil society activists, journalists, lawyers, academics, and opposition politicians; news reports; and public statements by government officials, the report examines how these provisions have been used to limit individual rights to speech and assembly.

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