International media organisations concerned about Internet restrictions In Singapore

International Journalists’ Network
17 Nov 06

Press freedom advocates are worried that authorities in Singapore are preparing to tighten restrictions on the Internet, where many local people turn to find independent points of view.

The International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) included a brief report on the concerns in its most recent Communiqué, a weekly e-mail bulletin. The Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) are among those concerned about proposed changes to Singaporean law.

The government is proposing an expansion of the criminal code to cover certain offenses on the Internet. These could include jail terms for defamation, “public mischief,” or the “wounding” of racial or religious feelings. According to the Financial Times newspaper, those who send audio, video or other files sent over the Internet also could face prosecution. And one unusual provision would allow the government to prosecute people living outside the country, if they help anyone within the country commit an offense.

RSF recently ranked Singapore No. 146 out of 167 countries in its World Press Freedom Rankings. Authorities have been increasingly threatening criminal lawsuits against media that stray too far from the pro-government line. In October, the Singaporean government sued and banned the Far Eastern Economic Review magazine because it included an article about an opposition politician.

International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX):

Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF):

Southeast Asia Press Alliance (SEAPA):

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ):

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