Amnesty deplores deportation of lawyer Robert Amsterdam from Singapore

Disturbing news:  Dr Chee Soon Juan’s Canadian lawyer, Robert Amsterdam, was denied entry to Singapore  May 20 to consult with his client.

Instead he was detained and deported. To my knowledge, no reason has been given. Dr Chee is Singapore’s most prominent human rights defender and government critic.

Bob Amsterdam is also lawyer for the Singapore Democratic Party, which is led by Dr Chee as Secrertary-General.  Please see article below.

Amnesty International regards the situation as an infringement of Dr Chee’s right to access his lawyer: his lawyer cannot enter Singapore and Dr Chee cannot meet him outside Singapore.  Dr Chee was declared bankrupt following a series of politically-motivated, ruinous suits filed by the long-ruling People’s Action Party. As a bankrupt, he is not allowed to travel outside Singapore without official permission (his many applications were turned down).

His most recent application was again rejected:  he wished to travel to Norway to receive a prestigious human rights award conferred by the Human Rights Foundation and to deliver a speech at its international meeting.  The award and invitation to speak once again illustrate Dr Chee’s international reputation and the respect with which he is regarded.

Singapore’s treatment of Dr Chee and his lawyer, Robert Amsterdam,  belies the promises in recent years made by the government to “open up” Singapore.

International human rights lawyer, Bob Amsterdam, was detained and turned back at Changi Airport when he visited Singapore on Sunday 20 May 2012.

Mr Amsterdam is acting for Dr Chee Soon Juan on the international stage and assisting him in on-going legal matters as many of Dr Chee’s prosecutions involve international customary law. He is also the legal counsel for the SDP.

Mr Amsterdam is doing this on a pro-bono basis. He runs his law firm Amsterdam & Partners which has offices in Toronto and London, taking on a wide range of cases from sovereign wealth funds to human rights.

When he arrived at the airport, his passport was impounded at Customs and he was placed under detention. He was then put on a return flight. He was not given a reason for the refusal of his entry into Singapore.

Mr Amsterdam was visiting Singapore to discuss with Dr Chee legal matters regarding the denial of human rights in the country as they relate to the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Government continues to prohibit Dr Chee from traveling outside of Singapore because he was made a bankrupt by former prime ministers Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Goh Chok Tong.

Mr Amsterdam recently published a White Paper titled The Repression of Political Freedoms in Singapore: The Case of Opposition Leader Dr. Chee Soon Juan in which he reviews how the Singapore Government has monopolized the state’s apparatus to its own benefit. The result has been the denial of democratic rights and freedoms and the muzzling of domestic and international media.

Margaret John

Coordinator for Singapore and Malaysia

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