[Straits Times – Opinion] Anti-foreign interference Bill – 3 areas of concern (by Harpreet Singh Nehal)

2 October 2021

PUBLISHED SEP 28, 2021, 5:00 AM SGT – https://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/anti-foreign-interference-bill-3-areas-of-concern

The Fica Bill as currently drafted is problematic because of its extremely broad language, restrictions on judicial review and questionable procedural rules.

The Foreign Interference (Countermeasures) Bill (Fica) was recently introduced in Parliament. It seeks to reduce the risk of acts of foreign interference by strengthening the Government’s ability to prevent, detect and disrupt such interference.

The Bill creates new offences which target clandestine online activity. It also imposes substantial financial reporting obligations on politically significant persons, as well as obligations on parties providing social media services and online content.

Foreign interference is a matter of growing concern, especially for small states, in a fast-changing geopolitical context where significant players are seeking to strengthen their reach and carve out spheres of influence. Any responsible government needs to be adequately equipped to protect the public interest by counteracting such acts of foreign interference.

The challenge is to craft balanced legislation that effectively addresses undesirable foreign influence while not curtailing legitimate citizen-led activity. Here are three aspects of the Bill which give cause for grave concern.

For the rest of the article, please visit https://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/anti-foreign-interference-bill-3-areas-of-concern


[Greenpeace SEA] Online Submission of the CSO Briefing Paper on Ratifying and Implementing ILO Convention 188 in ASEAN Member States to ASEAN Secretariat

30 September 2021

We have attached a copy of Greenpeace Southeast Asia’s Briefing Paper on Ratifying and Implementing ILO Convention 188 in ASEAN Member States and the cover email below. Please click on the link to download a copy of the report.


Dear ASEAN Secretariat,

In October last year, Greenpeace Southeast Asia (GPSEA) started developing the Briefing Paper on Ratifying and Implementing ILO Convention 188 in ASEAN Member States. We also initiated email correspondence and virtual consultation meetings with the respective sectoral bodies: ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), the ASEAN Committee on Migrant Workers (ACMW), and the Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crimes (SOMTC). Alongside this, workshops were conducted to align views with fellow civil society organisations (CSO) and trade union colleagues. 

The briefing paper is jointly submitted by 18 CSOs and trade unions and endorsed by 6 organisations, with the aim of having ASEAN member states join us to fight modern slavery at sea together at the regional level.

It is very unfortunate that none of the AICHR, ACMW, and SOMTC Brunei Darussalam leaders are able to join us in the online launch event due to other commitments. Nevertheless, we are submitting the briefing paper online by way of this email. Please find this document attached.

We really hope that this briefing paper will mark the beginning of further discussions and collaborations between CSOs, trade unions, and ASEAN to combat modern slavery at sea. Therefore, we are looking forward to hearing your response and views on the matter. 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Joint-Submitters

Asosiasi Pekerja Perikanan Indonesia (AP2I)

CSO Coalition for Ethical and Sustainable Seafood

Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF)

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)

Global Labor Justice – International Labor Rights Form (GLJ-ILRF)

Greenpeace Southeast Asia

Indonesia Ocean Justice Initiative (IOJI)

Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Bandung (LBH Bandung)

Oxfam International – Asia

Plan International

Serikat Awak Kapal Perikanan Bersatu (Sakti) SULUT

Serikat Awak Kapal Transportasi Indonesia (SAKTI)

Serikat Buruh Migran Indonesia (SBMI)

Serikat Pekerja Perikanan Indonesia (SPPI)

Serikat Pelaut Sulawesi Utara (SPSU)

Stella Maris Manila

The Migrant Workers Rights Network (MWRN)

Verité Southeast Asia

Endorsers

Amnesty International – Indonesia

Destructive Fishing Watch (DFW)

Human Rights Working Group (HRWG)

MARUAH Singapore

Raks Thai Foundation

Solidaritas Perempuan (SP)


[Singapore Internet Watch] September Internet News Round-Up; Privacy and Security Resources for Civil Society

19 September 2021

This round-up covers issues ranging from crucial privacy/security resources for civil society, the Yale-NUS merger, and the latest use of POFMA. We have provided some excerpts from the round-up below. If you would like to subscribe to the newsletter, please click here.

Law and Digital Politics

The new foreign interference law: A new Foreign Interference (Countermeasures) Act has been introduced in Parliament. If passed, it will give the Singapore government the power to remove, change, or block “hostile” online information. As with POFMA, the bill’s impact on the shape of electronic communications will be noteworthy.

Sedition Act Repeal: The passage of more recent laws, such as POFMA has lessened the relevance of the Sedition Act, according to a bill introduced in Parliament to repeal it. However, with the Sedition Act’s repeal, the Criminal Procedure Code will be amended to make “ the deliberate wounding of any person’s religious or racial feelings” and “the promotion of disharmony” arrestable offences.

Crowdfunding for Damages to Singapore’s PM: The Online Citizen editor Terry Xu has been crowdfunding to pay for damages to PM Lee Hsien Loong, following 2 defamation lawsuits over TOC’s articles on the Lee siblings dispute.

Education

AI in Education: As part of Singapore’s National AI Strategy for education, MOE is exploring AI-enabled marking for English assignments and expects to integrate this into the Student Learning Space e-learning platform in 2 years.

Academic Freedom in Singapore: Academia.sg released their ground-breaking Academic Freedom Report. Check out this summary of key points from Yahoo Singapore: 78% of Singapore academics report at least ‘moderate’ interference: poll.

Yale-NUS Closure: read below for a compilation of recent analysis and commentary.

Business

Labour Protections for Platform Workers: Amidst a growing gig economy, PM Lee’s NDR speech addressed the precarity that platform workers face and acknowledged their need for better economic protections.

Manipulating Review Platforms: A Japanese restaurant in Singapore discovered that their negative online reviews it was receiving were actually their competitors trying to sabotage them

Security and Surveillance

Up to US$150,000 for Ethical Hackers: GovTech is launching a program to reward ethical hackers who find bugs and vulnerabilities in government websites and apps.

Autonomous Robots Patrolling the Heartland: This three week trial marks the first time “that an autonomous robot is being used to patrol and survey a public area with high foot traffic to enhance public health and safety”.


Singapore Internet Watch is a student-run group focusing on internet research. Their key focus areas include censorship, media regulation, misinformation and freedom of information.


The group believes in the need for open data and transparency in studying contentious issues at the intersection of Singapore’s internet and society.


Subscribe to their monthly newsletter to receive a round-up of the latest developments in Singapore’s media and politics, and updates on their work.


[International Criminal Court] Abd-Al-Rahman case : Trial to open on 5 April 2022

19 September 2021

Today, 8 September 2021, Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or “Court”) composed of Judge Joanna Korner, Presiding Judge, Judge Reine Alapini-Gansou and Judge Althea Violet Alexis-Windsor  scheduled the opening of the trial in the case  The Prosecutor v. Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman (“Ali Kushayb”) for 5 April 2022.

Mr Abd-Al-Rahman was transferred to the ICC’s custody on 9 June 2020, after surrendering himself voluntarily in the Central African Republic. His initial appearance before the ICC took place on 15 June 2020. The confirmation of charges hearing was held before Pre-Trial Chamber II from 24 to 26 May 2021. On  9 July 2021, Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court unanimously, issued a decision confirming all the charges brought by the Prosecutor against Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman (“Ali Kushayb”) and committed him to trial before a Trial Chamber.

The 31 charges include intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population as such, as a war crime; murder as a crime against humanity and as a war crime; pillaging as a war crime; destruction of the property of an adversary as a war crime; other inhumane acts as a crime against humanity; outrages upon personal dignity as a war crime; rape as a crime against humanity and a war crime; forcible transfer as a crime against humanity; persecution as a crime against humanity; torture as a crime against humanity and a war crime; cruel treatment as a war crime; attempted murder as a crime against humanity and a war crime.

For further information on this case, check here.

For further information, please contact Fadi El Abdallah, Spokesperson and Head of Public Affairs Unit, International Criminal Court, by telephone at: +31 (0)70 515-9152 or +31 (0)6 46448938 or by e-mail at: fadi.el-abdallah@icc-cpi.int

You can also follow the Court’s activities on TwitterFacebookTumblrYouTubeInstagram and Flickr


[Repost] Latest update on Myanmar by ANFREL

27 July 2021

[Repost] ANFREL Monthly Brief on Countries Under Restrictive Management – Series #3

6 July 2021

Bangladesh, Cambodia, Myanmar & Hong Kong

June 2021

Introduction
ANFREL started publishing the monthly brief on the countries under a restrictive environment in April 2021 to provide an insight into the human rights and democracy situation in these countries. As usual, they will cover issues related to elections and civil and political rights in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Myanmar and Hong Kong.

To read the full brief, please click here.


[Repost] List of Civil Society Organisations with Consultative Relationship with the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR)

26 March 2021

Upon deliberation at the 19th Meeting of the AICHR, the AICHR is pleased to announce the list of CSOs with successful applications for Consultative Relationship with the AICHR as follows:

  1. Child Rights Coalition Asia
  2. MARUAH (Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism, Singapore)
  3. Persatuan Penyandang Disabilitas Indonesia
  4. Save the Children Philippines
  5. The Vietnam Peace and Development Foundation

The AICHR looks forward for a meaningful and constructive engagement and interaction with the CSOs with Consultative Relationship to further enhance cooperation in the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

https://aichr.org/news/list-of-civil-society-organisations-with-consultative-relationship-with-the-asean-intergovernmental-commission-on-human-rights-aichr/


[Repost] Laos: After eight years, civil society worldwide demands the government establish and reveal Sombath’s fate and whereabouts

25 January 2021

Link to original post

Jan 13, 2021 | DFFStatements

On the eighth anniversary of the enforced disappearance of Lao civil society leader Sombath Somphone, we, the undersigned organizations, reiterate our calls on the government of Laos to reveal his fate and whereabouts, and to investigate all allegations of enforced disappearances in the country to bring those responsible to justice in fair trials.

The government’s ongoing failure to thoroughly, independently, and impartially investigate the cases of Sombath and other alleged victims of enforced disappearance is compounded by its total lack of commitment to address this issue.

In June 2020, during the third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Laos at the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council, the government refused to accept all five recommendations calling for an adequate investigation into Sombath’s enforced disappearance. The government also refused to accept another eight recommendations calling for investigations into all cases of alleged enforced disappearance.

Despite the government accepting that “the search for missing Lao citizens, including Sombath Somphone, is the duty of the Lao government”, it failed to demonstrate any will to effectively execute or fulfill this duty. The government stated that investigations into cases of enforced disappearances were “considered on a case by case basis,” but did not reveal how many investigations it had conducted, for which cases, or any updates on developments in the alleged investigations. It also failed to provide any information about its efforts to determine the fate and whereabouts of Sombath Somphone.

In addition, the government failed to further commit to ratifying the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance – a treaty that Laos signed in September 2008.

We renew our call for the establishment of an independent and impartial investigative body tasked with determining Sombath’s fate and whereabouts. The new body should receive international technical assistance in order to conduct a professional and effective investigation in accordance with international standards.

We also urge the Lao government to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance without delay, incorporate its provisions into the country’s legal framework, implement it in practice, and recognize the competence of the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances to receive and consider communications from or on behalf of the victims in accordance with Article 31 of the Convention.

We stand shoulder to shoulder with all victims of enforced disappearance in Laos and their families, and we will not stop demanding that all their cases be independently, impartially, and effectively investigated, and the perpetrators of such a serious crime be identified and held accountable in fair trials, regardless of their rank or status.

Sombath was disappeared, but our combined determination to seek truth, justice, and reparations for his enforced disappearance will never go away. Our commitment is as strong today as it was eight years ago. We are still asking “Where is Sombath?”

Background

Sombath was last seen at a police checkpoint on a busy street of the Lao capital, Vientiane, on the evening of 15 December 2012. Footage from a CCTV camera showed that Sombath’s vehicle was stopped at the police checkpoint and that, within minutes, unknown individuals forced him into another vehicle and drove him away in the presence of police officers. CCTV footage also showed an unknown individual driving Sombath’s vehicle away from the city center. The presence of police officers at Sombath’s abduction and their failure to intervene strongly indicates state agents’ participation in Sombath’s enforced disappearance.

Lao authorities have repeatedly claimed they have been investigating Sombath’s enforced disappearance but have failed to disclose any new findings to the public since 8 June 2013. They have neither met with Sombath’s wife, Shui Meng Ng, nor provided her with any updates on their investigation into his case since December 2017. Relatives of people who are forcibly disappeared are themselves victims of enforced disappearance and have the right to a remedy for violations of international human rights law. They frequently suffer harm, including mental anguish and material consequences, which may amount to torture or other ill-treatment.

Signed by:

  1. 11.11-Belgium
  2. Alliance Sud
  3. Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (ALTSEAN-Burma)
  4. Amnesty International
  5. ARTICLE 19
  6. ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights
  7. Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances
  8. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
  9. Bangladesh Working Group on External Debt (BWGED)
  10. Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights
  11. Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines
  12. CCFD-Terre Solidaire
  13. Center for Prisoners’ Rights
  14. Civil Rights Defenders
  15. CLEAN (Coastal Livelihood and Environmental Action Network)
  16. Commonwealth human Rights Initiative (CHRI)
  17. Covenants Watch
  18. Cross Cultural Foundation
  19. Environics Trust
  20. Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières (ESSF)
  21. Federación Latinoamericana de Asociaciones de Familiares de Detenidos-Desaparecidos
  22. FIAN International
  23. FIDH – International Federation for Human Rights
  24. Focus on the Global South
  25. Four Freedoms Forum
  26. Fortify Rights
  27. Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT)
  28. Fresh Eyes
  29. Fundacion Solón
  30. Human Rights Watch
  31. International Coalition against Enforced Disappearances
  32. International Commission of Jurists
  33. International Rivers
  34. Internet Law Reform Dialogue (iLaw)
  35. Justice for Iran
  36. Justice for Peace Foundation
  37. Lao Movement for Human Rights
  38. League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran
  39. MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)
  40. Maldivian Democracy Network
  41. Manushya Foundation
  42. MARUAH
  43. Mekong Watch
  44. Odhikar
  45. Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee
  46. People’s Watch
  47. Project SEVANA South-East Asia
  48. Taiwan Association for Human Rights
  49. The Corner House
  50. Transnational Institute
  51. Vietnam Committee on Human Rights
  52. WomanHealth Philippines
  53. World Organisation Against Torture
  54. World Rainforest Movement

Individuals

Achin Vanaik

Andy Rutherford

Angkhana Neelapaijit

Anna Polony

David JH Blake

Francine Mestrum

Jesus Santiago

Katherine Bowie

Keith Barney

Larry Lohmann

Leang Bunleap

Natalia Scurrah

Nick Buxton

Nick Hildyard

Sarah Sexton

Shui Meng Ng

Soren Bo Sondergaard

Thierry Kesteloot

William Nicholas Gomes


[Repost] ANFREL Quarterly Newsletter – Volume 6, Issue 4 (October – December 2020)

17 January 2021

2020 Myanmar General Elections:
Election Day Peaceful, Orderly

The Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL) congratulates the people of Myanmar and all those who made the 2020 Myanmar General Elections a success despite difficult conditions. ANFREL found that the Election Day was peaceful and orderly across Myanmar with no major incidents reported.

As the polls were held amid the COVID-19 pandemic, health guidelines were imposed and were observed to have been implemented well, although social distancing could not be implemented in many locations because of large crowds and/or lack of available space.

ANFREL mounted an international election observation mission to Myanmar’s 2020 general elections with 13 long-term observers and eight short-term observers with additional Election Day observers, a core team based in Yangon, and four electoral analysts.

Download the interim report and the rest of this newsletter here.


[Repost] Article by MARUAH Secretary Braema Mathi in Q1 2021 edition of “Directors Bulletin” published by the Singapore Institute of Directors

6 January 2021

This article first appeared in the Q1 2021 issue of the SID Directors Bulletin published by the Singapore Institute of Directors. Please click on the excerpt below for Braema’s full article.