Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ex-ISA detainee's suits thrown out

He started legal action against Govt for alleged torture, unlawful detention

By Tessa Wong

A LAWSUIT brought against the Government by a former detainee for alleged torture was thrown out of court, the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) told The Straits Times yesterday.

Also struck out by the High Court was a related suit claiming unlawful detention.

The lawsuits were brought by Mr Michael Fernandez, 77, a leftist unionist who was detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) from 1964 to 1973.

He initiated legal action last December, naming the Attorney-General, the legal representative of the Government, as the defendant.

This was followed a month later by a second suit claiming that a portion of his detention was unlawful.

The AGC applied to strike out the cases, arguing that they disclosed no reasonable cause, and were frivolous and vexatious and an abuse of court process.

Mr Fernandez was a trade unionist who, among other things, led a month-long strike involving 11,000 workers in October 1963. He was detained under the ISA the following year.

The Government accused him of being a member of the Communist United Front. He has denied the accusation, saying he was only a workers' rights activist.

In his writ, he alleged that during his detention, he was force-fed, manhandled, deprived of sleep, and made to live in conditions that were 'not humanely habitable', among other things. He claimed unspecified damages.

He filed a similar lawsuit against the Malaysian government, which is still pending. At the time of his arrest in September 1964, Singapore was part of Malaysia. Singapore left Malaysia in August 1965.


Read : More ex-detainees speak out : Political violence and the abuse of the ISA in Singapore

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