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Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                                

Republic of Singapore

the penal code mandates corporal punishment in the form of caning, in addition to imprisonment, for about 30 offenses, and it can also be used as a disciplinary measure in prisons   [Freedom House Country Report, 2020]

Description: Description: Singapore

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Singapore.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.

*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Singapore

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 5 August 2021]


The law mandates imprisonment and mandatory caning for approximately 30 offenses, such as certain cases of rape, robbery, and drug trafficking. Caning is discretionary for convictions on other charges involving the use of force, such as kidnapping or voluntarily causing grievous hurt. Caning also may be used as a punishment for legally defined offenses while in prison, if a review by the Institutional Discipline Advisory Committee deems it necessary and the commissioner of prisons approves. Women and girls, men older than 50 years and boys younger than 16, men sentenced to death whose sentences were not commuted, and persons determined medically unfit were exempt from punishment by caning.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 18 May 2020]


Singaporeans are largely protected against the illegitimate use of force and are not directly exposed to war or insurgencies. Prisons generally meet international standards. However, the penal code mandates corporal punishment in the form of caning, in addition to imprisonment, for about 30 offenses, and it can also be used as a disciplinary measure in prisons. Singapore continues to impose the death penalty for crimes including drug trafficking. Thirteen people were executed during 2018; complete information on executions during 2019 was not available at year’s end.

Singapore rejects criticism that caning is `torture`

Zee News, 9 March 2015

[accessed 6 April 2015]

Singapore on Monday defended a court order for two German men to be caned for spray-painting a metro train and trespassing into a high-security depot, rejecting claims the punishment amounts to torture.

US-based Human Rights Watch has slammed Singapore`s continued use of caning -- a punishment dating back to British colonial rule -- as a "shameful recourse to using torture".

"Singapore`s laws against vandalism are well known. Caning is a prescribed punishment for the offence of vandalism, and the law applies to any person who chooses to break it," a spokeswoman for the Attorney-General`s Chambers told AFP.

"Caning is not torture. It is carried out in Singapore under strict standards, monitored at all times by a doctor," she added.

Human Rights Watch World Report 2015 - Events of 2014

Human Rights Watch, 29 January 2015 or

[accessed 18 March 2015]


CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM - Singapore continues to use the Internal Security Act (ISA) and Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) to arrest and administratively detain persons for virtually unlimited periods without charge or judicial review. Government authorities publicly maintain that such laws are necessary to protect Singapore from international terrorist threats. Authorities did not report any new arrests under the ISA in 2014.

Yong Vui Kong, who had his death sentence for drug-running commuted to life imprisonment and now faces a 15-stroke caning, has mounted a constitutional challenge to caning, asserting it violates Singapore’s constitution and customary international law that prohibits torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. The challenge was pending before the Supreme Court at time of writing.


From an old article -- URL not available

Article was published sometime prior to 2015

TORTURE AND OTHER ILL-TREATMENT - Judicial caning – a practice amounting to torture or other ill-treatment – continued as a punishment for a wide range of criminal offences.

Drug traffickers sentenced to life imprisonment instead of the mandatory death penalty would be liable to caning under proposed amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Act.


For more articles:: Search Amnesty International’s website

[accessed 14 January 2019]

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Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 11 February 2013]

[accessed 5 July 2019]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – The law prohibits such practices, and the government generally respected these prohibitions. In March 2004 a detainee claimed that in 2003 police officers used physical means to force him to confess and threatened to arrest his wife. The trial judge ruled that the confession was involuntary, refused to allow it into evidence, and subsequently acquitted the man of all charges. In August 2004 the High Court sustained the ruling that the confession was involuntary and disallowed it. It nonetheless found the accused guilty and sentenced him to two years' imprisonment. The police force took no action against the officers accused of using "physical means" because the detainee had not lodged a complaint prior to the trial.

In previous years there were some cases of alleged police mistreatment of detainees. Persons alleging mistreatment were permitted to bring criminal charges against government officials suspected of involvement. The media reported fully on allegations of police abuse, and the government took action against abusers.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, " Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Singapore",, [accessed <date>]