Tag Archives: Human Rights Watch

Relevance of Universal Periodic Review in Singapore’s case

31 Oct

In its report to the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR), Singaporeans for Democracy (SFD), an NGO promoting local and regional democracy and human rights, focused on the city state’s electoral system, which it claims, is the root cause of all human rights abuses. While this is a commendable effort in drawing attention to the shortcomings of the electoral system and appears to coincide with upcoming general elections, its appraisals and recommendations may be of little relevance to the review due to the tenuous and indirect links between free and fair elections and human rights violations. It remains at best, speculative, that open and independent elections would naturally create conducive factors leading to human rights promotion. Moreover, the UPR is tasked to deal with specific human rights violations. As such, NGOs should have chosen to focus on these issues such as the death penalty. While Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of the Human Rights (UDHR) affirms the right of all peoples to representative government, this is not explicitly suggested by the SFD report. This article, divided into two parts, briefly describe the history, procedures, strengths and shortcomings of the UPR, before situating within the Singapore context.
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Sydney activists urge action on Honduras

26 Mar

‘Sydney Says no to Honduras’, a webpage maintained by two Sydney activists concerned about the situation in Honduras, has documented some possible actions that individuals can do. Their suggestions include writing letters to politicians and replying to mainstream media on reports from Honduras.

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HRW – LGBTQ report on Singapore – comments and thoughts

12 Jun

According to the Human Rights Watch ‘Together Apart – Organizing around sexual orientation and gender identity worldwide’ report, two Singaporean LGBTQ groups were interviewed on the challenges facing activists and their community. Continue reading

Explanation from Human Rights Watch?

3 Feb

Tom Malinowski, the Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch (HRW), was quoted in a L.A Times article that, ‘ Continue reading

The Attorney General that Condones Torture?

3 Nov

It is shocking that Michael Mukasey, Bush’s appointed attorney General, has told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that he did not know if the interrogation technique of “waterboarding” similar to the act of drowning, is illegal.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a press statement, dated October 18, in which the appointee has suggested that “unlawful combatants” in US custody are not entitled to the humane treatment protections of the Geneva Conventions.

According to HRW, the US military court considered waterboarding as torture for more than a hundred years, dated as early to the Spanish-American War. The State Department has also consistently condemned other countries for waterboarding.

The human rights organization has also demanded that the new attorney general, if appointed, must investigate the case of previous Attorney General Alberto Gonzales for approving two new leaked memos. The first memo “provided explicit authorization to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to subject detained terrorist suspects to a combination of abusive interrogation methods.” The other memo argued that “the president was not bound by federal laws prohibiting torture, and that the Department of Justice lacked authority to enforce anti-torture laws against those acting with the president’s authorization.”

According to AP report, “Bush: No attorney general if not Mukasey” dated 2 November, the vote on Tuesday, to be decided by a 19 member committee, has so far seen 4 out of 10 Democrats publicly announcing their decision to vote against Mukasey. Assuming that the other 9 republicans in the committee will vote for him, his appointment will hence hinge one only one vote from the Democrats, who may or may not side with the President.

George Bush has also vigourously defended his position to appoint Mukasey saying that, “He (Mukasey) doesn’t know whether we use that technique or not,” and that “It doesn’t make any sense to tell an enemy what we’re doing.” He also said America needs an attorney general for the war on terrrorism.

When he was asked if waterboarding constitutes torture, he dodged the question by saying “I’m not going to talk about techniques. There’s an enemy out there.”

The Bush Administration has committed human rights violations by estabilishing CIA secret rendition programs, Guantanamo Bay facilities, illegal wiretapping amongst other atrocities.

It will be a sad state of affairs if Michael Mukasey is appointed as the next attorney general considering his ambiguous position towards torture and interrogation techniques. The committee has to vote unanimously against this candidate who condones torture.