MARUAH recently made a submission to the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS), as part of a public consultation on the draft report on the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
Having ratified the CRC in 1995, Singapore is obliged to submit a report every 5 years to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.
See here for a previous post on this issue.
Below is our submission.
Comments on Singapore’s Draft Periodic Report on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
MARUAH welcomes the Government’s attempts in engaging with Singaporeans’ views in its Periodic Report to be submitted to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. We have been heartened by the response of Singaporeans on this document even though their opinions were articulated in a private context (closed-door event). We look forward to public dialogues between the people and the Government in future forums.
MARUAH notes that the CRC, together with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), is a core human rights treaty that all ASEAN states have acceded to, or ratified. We therefore believe that it is important for Singapore to be a leader within the ASEAN family in upholding the values and obligations of the CRC. Accordingly, MARUAH, as a group focusing on the establishment of the ASEAN human rights body, is glad for this opportunity to be of assistance in the ongoing process of human rights development in Singapore and by extension ASEAN.
MARUAH makes the following comments:
General measures of implementation
1. Declarations and reservations
1.a. MARUAH highlights one of the Government’s reservation on compulsory education
“(6) With respect to article 28.1(a), the Republic of Singapore – (a) does not consider itself bound by the requirement to make primary education compulsory because such a measure is unnecessary in our social context where in practice virtually all children attend primary school;”
1.b. MARUAH calls for the above reservation to be removed in light of the implementation of the Compulsory Education Act in Singapore
2.a. Too few know about the CRC, especially children
2.b. MARUAH calls for the CRC to be included in the school syllabus
2.c. MARUAH is also concerned that the draft report was only disseminated in early July 2008, with only 1 month for public consultation
2.d. MARUAH understands that the forum held on 2nd July to discuss the draft report was a closed-door event (as reported by TODAY), and not a public forum
2.e. MARUAH calls for greater public consultation on the CRC report; specifically, MCYS needs to engage the young
Basic health and welfare
3. Children with disabilities
3.a. Children with disabilities are not fully integrated into the education system
3.b. They should be given every opportunity to interact with other children on a regular basis
3.c. Include special schools and all children with disabilities under the Compulsory Education Act
Special protection measures
4. Juvenile justice
4.a. MCYS mentions “Notwithstanding the lower age of protection, there are currently safeguards and protective mechanisms within Singapore’s legislative framework to provide added protection to young offenders between 16 and 18.” (page 98, point 5.3)
4.b. What are the specific “safeguards and protective mechanisms”?
4.c. MARUAH notes that the MCYS report does not address the concerns raised by CRC committee [45a) on following UN guidelines, 45d) on prohibition of corporal punishment during detention]
5. MARUAH calls on Singapore to ratify the 2 Optional Protocols under CRC
5.a. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. Singaporeans engaged in paedophilia outside of Singapore should be subjected to the “long-arm” of the law.
5.b. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict
In conclusion, we at MARUAH applaud the Government and all Singaporeans who participated in this dialogue for producing a document that is worthy of a society that prides itself for its child-friendly family values. We hope the amendments that we seek will be considered, and look forward to contributing to the larger process of establishing a culture of respect for fundamental human rights in Singapore.