SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has refuted allegations by activist and blogger Han Hui Hui that she was mistreated in a State Courts cell, dismissing them as "baseless and false".
In a statement on Tuesday (March 14), MHA referred to an online article - titled "Alone in a cell" - published on Ms Han's blog on Feb 23.
In the article, Ms Han, 24, had described her experience in a State Courts cell on Feb 22, after her unsuccessful appeal against a fine for co-organising a protest rally to disrupt a charity event at Hong Lim Park in September 2014.
Among her allegations was that she was subjected to a "humiliating" body search that required her to remove her clothes.
MHA said that the Singapore Prisons Service (SPS) has interviewed the relevant officers and reviewed the CCTV footage and documents in relation to Ms Han's custody in the lock-up.
Five allegations that Ms Han wrote in her article were addressed by MHA:
- First, Ms Han was not subjected to a strip search. She was searched by a female officer and remained clothed for the entire duration;
- Second, her claims that male officers had walked past her while she was being searched are untrue. She was based in the women's wing of the lock-up, which is not accessible to male officers. A privacy screen is also deployed when a search in progress;
- Third, her allegation that Malaysian Auxiliary Police Officers (APOs) hired by SPS had made disparaging comments against Singaporeans is unfounded. The team overseeing the lock-up consists of prisons officers supported by both Singaporean and Malaysian APOs;
- Fourth, her allegation that detainees were not given toiletries after relieving themselves is also untrue. Upon request, toilet paper is made available to detainees.
- Fifth, Ms Han was provided with lunch during her temporary custody.
MHA also added that Ms Han could have raised the issues at any time while she was in custody - which she had failed to do so - and the SPS would have looked into it.
"Instead, she chose to publish the fabricated, false and misleading accounts on social media," MHA said.
"MHA takes all allegations seriously and will investigate them thoroughly. However, we will also vigorously defend our officers from baseless attacks to ensure that the integrity of our law enforcement agencies is not undermined."
Ms Han's Feb 23 article was also one of six online posts that the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) on Monday asked her to take down. All the posts alleged that judges had lied in order to politically persecute her.
She has been given seven days to take down the posts and issue an apology, with the AGC saying it will file contempt of court proceedings against her should she fail to do so.