UN Human Rights Council passes resolution on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

20 June 2011

In a resolution (A/HRC/17/L.9/Rev.1) regarding human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity, adopted by a vote of 23 in favour, 19 against, and 3 abstentions, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) requested the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to commission a study to be finalised by December 2011 to document discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, in all regions of the world, and how international human rights law can be used to end violence and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The HRC also decided to convene a panel discussion during the nineteenth session of the Human Rights Council, informed by the facts contained in the study commissioned by OHCHR and to have constructive, informed and transparent dialogue on the issue of discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.

The HRC will also discuss the appropriate follow-up to the recommendations of the study commissioned by OHCHR.

More details can be found in the link below
http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=38762


MARUAH embarks on election monitoring project

28 April 2011

MARUAH (Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism, Singapore) is embarking on an election monitoring project for the 2011 General Elections.

Election monitoring involves observation of election processes by independent groups to ensure that the conduct of an election is free and fair, based on both national legislation and international norms.

In the 1990s, UN and EU observers focused on elections in countries with weak democracies or democracies in transition. But in recent years countries with long-standing reputations as developed democracies, e.g. France, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States – have also availed themselves to internal processes of scrutiny, as run by their NGOs and other International NGOs.

For us at MARUAH, as a human rights NGO, we want a free and fair election with an informed electorate participating in the process. Singapore has a good reputation for conducting its election process well. We have systems and processes that ensure scrutiny by both parties – the incumbents and the contenders.

Due to limited resource, we will focus on the administration of the election process (polling and counting). By conducting this exercise we are not saying that the administration is deficient. In fact what we are trying to ascertain, with the help of the electorate, is that we do have a good process administratively on Polling Day.

Also, the mainstream media has received its fair share of criticisms when it comes to election coverage with a commonly-held view that they are pro-PAP. In this case a monitoring of the media will show how the media covers election stories.

The aims of MARUAH’s Election Monitoring Process are:-

– To raise awareness among the voters on the processes in the polling station and counting centres

– To call upon the voters to become their own custodians of fair election processes

– To ascertain that we indeed have good administrative processes in these two areas of polling and counting of ballots

– To ascertain the level of objectivity displayed in the mainstream media with regard to the elections

– To build up a community of monitoring enthusiasts

Approach

Polling – we will conduct an e-survey and we need as many voters as possible to send us back their forms which are in a ‘tick-the boxes’ approach – quantitative. We will also conduct a street poll among voters. The survey form link will be uploaded on the MARUAH website, so that voters will know what to look out for when they are in the polling centre.

Counting – we will conduct a survey that we hope counting agents from all political parties will participate and send us back their responses.

A quick analysis will be done with the returned forms and we will share the findings within three days of Polling Day.

Media – we will be analysing the media and releasing the results preferably on a daily basis.

MARUAH requires volunteers to assist in this project. Interested individuals are encouraged to email maruahsg@gmail.com if they would like to be involved.


SMU Seminar on Election Monitoring

18 April 2011

Join Bridget Welsh, Associate Professor of Political Science at Singapore Management University, as she explains the processes involved in Election Monitoring, and highlights her experiences of observing elections in South-East Asia. More details below.

Date: 20 April 2011 (Wednesday)
Time: 5:30 to 6:30 pm
Venue: Seminar Room 2.6, School of Social Sciences, Singapore Management University
Speaker: Associate Professor Bridget Welsh
Chair: Braema Mathi, MARUAH (Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism, Singapore)

Below is the SMU campus map for reference.


UPR – Summary of stakeholders’ information & Compilation of UN information available online

6 April 2011

Universal Periodic Review (UPR) – Singapore
The United Nations (UN) has uploaded documents relating to the review of Singapore’s human rights record under the UPR process.

Of note is the “Summary of stakeholders’ information”, a summary of the 18 submissions made by Singapore & overseas NGOs, and the “Compilation of UN information”, a summary of current information already available on the UN database.

MARUAH’s contributions can be found in the “Summary of stakeholders’ information” under both “MARUAH” and “JS3”.


Amnesty International report on the death penalty

29 March 2011

Amnesty International (AI) has released a new report on the death penalty.

AI found that countries which continue to use the death penalty are being left increasingly isolated following a decade of progress towards abolition.

The summary and full report can be found at the link below.
http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/report/death-penalty-2010-executing-countries-left-isolated-after-decade-progress

Also read a blog post on the issue by Salil Shetty, Secretary-General of Amnesty International
http://livewire.amnesty.org/2011/03/28/the-global-movement-to-kill-the-death-penalty/


What can I say? – BBC radio documentary

13 March 2011

What can be said publicly in countries where politics, tradition and memories of past trauma combine to put limits on free expression?

In partnership with the Australian radio station ABC, the four-part series What Can I Say? explores freedom of speech and democracy in South East Asia.

Presenter Gary Bryson travels to Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand and Singapore to meet people who are trying to find a voice for their village, their culture or their nation.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/documentaries/2011/01/110131_what_can_i_say.shtml


Singapore Government submits National Report for UPR process

1 March 2011

The Singapore Government recently submitted its National Report for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process. A copy of the report can be downloaded here.

MARUAH’s comments on the report can be found in the media reports below
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/1113004/1/.html
http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/international/spore-submits-first-human-rights-report-to-un/425288