(PARIS): The Singaporean government must immediately drop all charges against three peaceful protestors and guarantee the right to freedom of peaceful assembly in accordance with international human rights standards, FIDH said today.
Activists Hui Hui Han, 24, and her supporters Mr. Koh Yew Beng (60) and Ms. Low Wai Choo (56) will appear before Singapore’s State Court on 24 February 2016 for the continuation of their trail, which was last adjourned on 16 October 2015.
The three face charges under Section 290 of the Criminal Code (causing a public nuisance) and Regulation 23(2)(b) of the Parks and Trees Regulations for participating in a peaceful demonstration at Hong Lim Park’s Speakers’ Corner on 27 September 2014 that called for transparency in the Singaporean government’s management of the Central Provident Fund (CPF).
If found guilty, the three face a fine of up to 1,000 Singapore dollars (SGD). Ms. Han faces an additional charge of organizing an ‘illegal demonstration’, which carries a penalty of up to SGD5,000. If Ms. Han’s fine exceeds SGD2,000, she would also be barred from standing for election for five years.
Karim Lahidji, FIDH President “The government should immediately end the judicial harassment against the three protestors and drop all charges against them. The government must also undertake a reform of laws and regulations that restrict the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and bring them in line with international human rights standards.”
During Singapore’s second Universal Periodic Review (UPR), held in Geneva, Switzerland, on 27 January 2016, Singapore received six recommendations that urged the government to ensure the realization of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly. The government delegation responded by justifying the severe restrictions on the exercise of this right with the need to ensure “society’s need for order and stability.”
These criteria fall short of internationally accepted standards, which require that any restrictions to the right to freedom of peaceful assembly be necessary and proportionate. International standards also stress the principle that a peaceful assembly should be presumed lawful and deemed as not constituting a threat to public order.