Government critics and human rights defenders continued to be penalized for exercising their right to freedom of expression. The media continued to be tightly controlled through restrictive censorship laws and legal actions against publishers. Arbitrary detention, judicial caning and the death penalty were retained.
Opposition party leader Chee Soon Juan remained bankrupt following defamation suits by current and former ministers, and was thus barred from seeking public office and from leaving Singapore. He and his colleagues faced fines and possible imprisonment for public speaking without a permit and holding illegal assemblies. Appeals against their convictions were ongoing and they remained free on bail at the end of the year.
An unknown number of suspected Islamic militants were held under the Internal Security Act (ISA), which provided for detention without trial. One further arrest was known to have been made. Seven who had been held for up to nine years were released.
At least eight people were sentenced to death. No official information on executions was available.
Caning was imposed for some 30 offences, including vandalism and immigration violations.
The UN Special Rapporteur on racism visited Singapore in April. His recommendations included the need for action to protect migrant workers and steps to create a legal and institutional framework to fight racism. He stated that it was time to allow Singaporeans to share their views on ethnicity and work together to find solutions.
For the first time several former prisoners of conscience made public their experiences, including Teo Soh Lung who published a book about her two detentions under the ISA, in 1987 and again in 1990.