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Activists calls for probe into assault of detained Indians

The group `Workfair Singapore` said the allegations were extremely grave and deserve the full investigative weight of the authorities.



Singapore: A group of civil society volunteers today called for a full-fledged probe into allegations of police assault against protesters detained following the December 8 riots erupted after foreign workers, including Indians, went on a rampage here.

The group `Workfair Singapore` said the allegations were extremely grave and deserve the full investigative weight of the authorities.

"`Workfair Singapore` is deeply dismayed that some of those remanded on charges of rioting in the `Little India` incident have complained of police assault in a place where there was no camera," said the group in a statement posted on its website today.

"In the light of four Cabinet ministers` widely-reported pronouncements on the causes of the incident prior to the trial or Committee of Inquiry, it is imperative that these allegations be investigated thoroughly and openly so as to avoid any suspicion of impropriety," said the group.

It also asked the Law Minister to appoint an independent investigator with full access to all the investigated persons and all the police officers who have had contact with them to "facilitate an impartial and independent investigation and forestall any subsequent concerns of bias".

The Straits Times reported yesterday that some defendants had alleged assault by police officers while under lock-up in a "place where there was not camera".

Singapore government has been looking into the cause of riots and its ministers have been checking on all aspects of the violence and concerns of foreign workers.
Workfair Singapore has also questioned the without trial deportation of 52 Indian nationals and one Bangladesh national related to the riots at Little India, an area of Indian-origin businesses, eateries, pubs and money remittance facilities.

"The arbitrary deportation of these 53 persons raises grave concerns about the Rule of Law. The Controller of Work Passes should not have arbitrary powers to revoke work passes without the right of appeal, or the Police Commissioner to determine culpability," it said.

By deporting these 53 without benefit of trial, the Controller has again denied low-waged migrant workers access to justice, it said.

"We call on the Minister for Home Affairs to stop the deportation and either submit these accused to trial or issue them with warnings as has been done with 200 others whose involvement was deemed to be `relatively passive`," it said.

The December 8 night riot in Singapore`s Little India was triggered by a fatal accident involving an Indian national and a privately owned bus.

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