Amnesty urges release of British author in Singapore

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International human rights group Amnesty International urged Singapore's government to immediately release an elderly British author arrested for writing a book on execution and the justice system.

Alan Shadrake, a 75-year-old freelance journalist, was held on Sunday on defamation and contempt of court charges, the day after launching his book "Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock".

The work alleges double standards in Singapore's use of the death penalty.

"Singapore uses criminal defamation laws to silence critics of government policies," said Donna Guest, Amnesty's Asia Pacific Deputy Director.

"The Singapore government should release Shadrake at once."

She added: "If Singapore aspires to be a global media city, it needs to respect global human rights standards for freedom of expression... Singapore should get rid of both its criminal defamation laws and the death penalty."

Amnesty also charged that Singapore's criminal defamation laws had had a "chilling effect on freedom of speech".

© 2010 AFP

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