Key points

An examination of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Singapore across two cycles (2008 and 2015) reveals:

  • Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) is enshrined in the Constitution and supported in practice through institutions and civic initiatives;

  • The Government pays particular attention to preserving racial and religious harmony;

  • There are some concerns on restrictions on free speech under the guise of preventing racial and religious strife; and

  • Migrant workers are in need of better protections to safeguard their freedom of religion or belief.

Key UPR Recommendations on FoRB

The following recommendations were made on FoRB across the two cycles:

  • Restrictions on public discourse related to religion should be narrowed;

  • Consider alternatives and less punitive measures for those violating religious sensitivities online or in publications;

  • Enactment of legislation ensuring nondiscrimination in employment related to religion; and

  • Singapore should share its best practices in maintaining FoRB and religious harmony.

Follow-up Action for Parliamentarians

Whereas the Singaporean Government has noted its good record on FoRB, Parliamentarians must follow-up in order to:

  • Ensure that Singaporean laws and employment agencies better enable migrant workers, especially domestic workers, to practice their faiths;

  • Ensure that sedition laws are not misused so as to stifle FoRB and freedom of expression; and

  • Ensure reviews of laws in order to consider alternative, effective interventions for individuals who may violate national laws or norms regarding religious or cultural sensibilities through publication or posting of offensive material.

Source: Country Briefing on Freedom of Religion or Belief produced by Asia Centre and IPPFoRB

Mohammad Mujeeb