Odious Debts

Singapore cracks down on civil society activity ahead of annual meetings

Bretton Woods Project
September 12, 2006

The annual meetings of the World Bank and the IMF, being held in Singapore, are facing controversy over the participation of civil society. As well as its usual ban on outdoor demonstrations, the government of Singapore has refused entry clearance to nearly two dozen civil society representatives accredited by the World Bank, and has reportedly put pressure on police authorities on a nearby island of Indonesia to cancel a planned civil society conference on alternatives to the international financial institutions.

Citing security concerns and the threat to law and order, the Singaporean authorities contacted 20 individuals from five organisations on Sept. 7 to inform them that they would not be allowed to enter Singapore in advance of or during the meetings. The
individuals from Europe and Asia were all issued accreditation by the World Bank to participate in the civil society seminars that occur alongside the official meetings of the Bank and Fund. Despite the individuals having been cleared by the Bank and their own governments’ representatives to the Bank, the Singaporean authorities were steadfast
in their refusal to allow them entry.

The Bank and Fund have issued a press release saying that they are taking up the cases of the banned individuals with the Singapore government, but the question remains as to how far the Bank will go to ensure their participation.

Despite reports that the memorandum of understanding between the institutions and the Singapore government indicated that the authorities would issue visas to all accredited delegates to the meetings, the Bank does not seem prepared to pursue legal redress for
the violation of the agreement.

www.brettonwoodsproject.org/art.shtml?x=542954 [PDFver here]

Related articles:

Bank slams Singapore crackdown [PDFver here]

Singapore silences voiceless protesters [PDFver here]

Wolfowitz calls Singapore activist ban “authoritarian”

Categories: Odious Debts

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