Singapore is a parliamentary republic where the People's Action Party (PAP), in power since 1959, overwhelmingly dominates the political scene. The 2011 general and presidential elections were viewed as open and free, with the major opposition party winning a record six seats in Parliament. Security forces reported to civilian authorities.
The government has broad powers to limit citizens’ rights. The government could and did censor the media (from television shows to Web sites) if it determined that the content would undermine social harmony or criticized the government. The Internal Security Act (ISA) permits preventive detention without warrant, filing of charges, or normal judicial review; in recent years it has been used against alleged terrorists and was not used against persons in the political opposition.
The following human rights problems were reported: Throughout the year legal restrictions on the activities of political opposition groups and parties benefitted the ruling PAP; caning is an allowable punishment for some crimes; restrictions existed on free speech and assembly; there was government intimidation that led to self-censorship by journalists; some limited restriction of freedom of religion; and some restrictions on labor rights.
The government prosecuted officials who committed human rights abuses, although there were no instances of such prosecutions reported during the year. There were no reports of impunity involving the security forces.