Human rights of migrant workers in ASEAN

28 August 2008

At the 7th Workshop on the ASEAN Regional Mechanism on Human Rights (held in Singapore 12-13 June 2008), Ms Braema Mathi of MARUAH spoke on issues faced by migrants workers in ASEAN. We enclose a PDF of her presentation.

MARUAH submits comments on draft CRC report

8 August 2008

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. Dissemination
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]

Optional Protocols

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.

Cyclone Nargis: Protect human lives – no ifs, no buts

4 June 2008

Two weeks after Asean foreign ministers met in Singapore in an attempt to persuade the Myanmar government to allow greater access to humanitarian aid workers to the Irrawaddy delta in the wake of Cyclone Nargis, there has been backtracking by the Myanmar government. There are continuing reports of obstruction by officials. Read the rest of this entry »

Cyclone Nargis: Catalyst for change in Myanmar?

16 May 2008

16 May 2008
Source: Reliefweb

Elizabeth Ferris, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy
Lex Rieffel, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Global Economy and Development

The December 2004 tsunami that devastated the province of Aceh in Indonesia was a human tragedy but a political blessing in the form of a peace agreement. What are the chances that the dark cloud of Cyclone Nargis, which slammed Myanmar/Burma on May 3, will have the silver lining of being a catalyst for political change? Read the rest of this entry »

Include domestic maids in Mother’s Day celebrations

10 May 2008

Columnist Ravi Veloo of Today newspaper, argues for giving foreign domestic workers a treat on Mother’s Day too. Indeed, one of the greatest stumbling blooks to a more humane treatment of domestic maids is the insensitivity common among Singaporeans to the sacrifices made by these women. Read the rest of this entry »

Failed justice: Guantanamo by the numbers

20 April 2008

By David Bowker and David Kaye

Six years ago, President George W. Bush granted American armed forces sweeping authority to detain and interrogate foreign members of Al Qaeda and their supporters and to use military commissions to try them. By doing so, the president set in motion the creation of military commissions and the detention camp in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The Bush administration may legitimately claim certain benefits from the Guantánamo system. Some dangerous men are held there, and valuable intelligence has probably been gathered, perhaps even some that has enabled the government to disrupt terrorist activities. But the costs have been high: Guantánamo has come to be seen worldwide as a stain on America’s reputation. Read the rest of this entry »