Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Singapore maintains secrecy over death penalty stats

At a recent forum organised by opponents of the death penalty in Singapore, a number of activists, including human rights lawyer M. Ravi, suggested that the government was perhaps becoming more open to providing information on how many people it hangs and for what crimes.

I've been researching a story on capital punishment in Singapore and after hearing their comments, I decided to try my luck with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and asked for stats on the number of executions in the last five years.

But the press officer refused to provide this information, pointing me instead to a five-year old press release on the Ministry's website.

"The information on the MHA website is what is available for your reporting," I was told.

The information provided in the January 2004 press release was issued as a rebuttal to a Amnesty International report on the "hidden tool of executions" in Singapore.

The government accused Amnesty of "grave errors of facts and misrepresentations, which seriously calls into question the credibility of its Report".

But if the government is not willing to release this information in the first place, then how are people supposed to research the issue in a credible and accurate manner?

Photo courtesy of Flickr user limeydog.


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