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WRITTEN QUESTION E-3922/06 by Member of European Parliament (MEP) Graham Watson to the Council
21 September 2006
Subject: Democracy and freedom in Singapore
Further to my written question E-1661/06 and E-1839?06 and in view of the Council’s previous expressed commitments to democracy and freedom, when will the Council discuss the restrictions on the freedom of Dr Chee in Singapore?
(23 October 2006)
It is not to be expected that the individual issue of Dr Chee will be raised in Council for a in Brussels. However, the EU, usually in troika format, regularly carries out demarches in individual cases in which rights are violated. These are usually kept confidential, for obvious reasons.
EU Member States and the Commission in Singapore engage in regular dialogue on the issue of democracy and fundamental freedoms with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Furthermore, a dedicated Human Rights Group at EU Political Counsellor level is identifying strategies to encourage Singapore’s government to adhere to international human rights standards. The group liaises closely with key stakeholders in Singapore’s civil society, including human rights lawyers. EU Member States and the Commission in Singapore also facilitate and participate in regular intellectual dialogue between high-profile representatives of the EU institutions or Member States and local think-tanks.
In addition to the activities in Singapore, the EU, in 2005, launched a global campaign on behalf of human rights defenders suffering for exercising their freedom of expression. Through this campaign, carried out in the context of the EU’s guidelines on human rights defenders, the EU is continuously reaffirming its strong commitment to this fundamental freedom which constitutes a prerequisite for the exercise of many human rights, and contributes to the emergence and existence of effective democratic systems.