Joint statement by Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign (SADPC) and Think Centre on Alan Shadrake’s 6 weeks jail term

(Singapore, 27 May 2011) Think Centre (TC) and Singapore Anti Death Penalty Campaign (SADPC) is deeply disappointed with the Court of Appeal’s decision to uphold Alan Shadrake’s original sentence of six-week jail term and S$20,000.00 fine topped up with an additional S$55,000 in costs to the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

The case garnered much attention internationally since Shadrake’s first arrest in July 2010 and had demonstrated Singapore’s judicial system’s predilection to be thin-skinned to criticisms and calls for reform. This unfortunate decision to prosecute Alan Shadrake only serves to further add an indelible stain on Singapore’s longstanding blemished human rights record especially in the realm of freedom of expression.

“As an investigative journalist, Alan has every right to publish his findings on the implementation of the death penalty in Singapore. Instead of persecuting him in this manner, the government could have banned the book. This heavy fine and jail sentence sends a clear message that the government does not respect independently minded journalists who point out flaws and shortcomings in the Singapore system” said Rachel Zeng, spokesperson for Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign.

Mr Sinapan Samydorai, spokesperson for Think Centre said, “The sentence is unduly harsh and lacks compassion . Singapore’s authorities, much as they disagree with the publication of his book, should treat Alan gently considering he is vulnerable in health. Alan will start serving a total of eight weeks in jail next Wednesday as he will also serve the default two-week jail for not paying the fine of S$20,000 in addition to the six weeks jail term for contempt of court. Alan Shadrake should be release in five weeks after remission for good behaviour.”

The verdict takes place two weeks after two major milestones in Singapore’s history: a landmark national parliamentary election that reflected the electorate’s call for change and Singapore’s first review of her human rights record at the United Nation’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

We note dismally that in the UPR session, Singapore government representatives has preemptively rejected recommendations to improve on key areas of human rights which include the repealing of criminal defamation legislations to ensure full enjoyment of freedom of expression. Such a stance reflected in today’s verdict shows that Singapore has a long journey ahead to transform the island state as a place that fully promotes, respects and protects human rights.

For media enquires, contact following spokespersons:

Rachel Zeng, SADPC (rachelabsinthe@gmail.com)

Sinapan Samydorai, Think Centre (thinkcentre@hotmail.com)