Petition calling for the immediate release of Alan Shadrake

A day after Alan Shadrake’s book “Once A Jolly Hangman” was launched in Singapore, he was arrested, held in detention, and interrogated. He was released on bail and his trial took place in Singapore last week. The verdict is expected on Thursday, 28 October 2010. If found guilty Alan faces up to two years in prison. He is 76 years-old and suffers from serious medical problems. Reporters Without Borders are calling for Alan’s immediate release.

Once A Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock reveals the cruelty and imprudence of an entire judicial system. At the same time he displays a touching empathy with the anguish of the victims and their families. From in-depth interviews with Darshan Singh, Singapore’s chief executioner for nearly fifty years, to meticulously researched accounts of numerous high profile cases, this book is a must read for human rights activists and concerned citizens everywhere.

Alan Shadrake is a renowned veteran investigative journalist and author whose 50-year career has taken him around the world. His appetite for unearthing the facts and presenting unpalatable truths remains undiminished.

Alan Shadrake speaking at one of the launch events for "Once A Jolly Hangman"

Alan Shadrake speaking at one of the launch events for "Once A Jolly Hangman"

Reporters Without Borders

Petition appeals for release of British journalist Alan Shadrake

Reporters Without Borders today launched an international petition calling for the release of British author and journalist Alan Shadrake who is facing two years in prison for writing a book about the death penalty in Singapore.

The petition, which is addressed to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, can be found on the organisation’s website here.

Alan Shadrake, who is aged 75, has been charged with “contempt of court” and the verdict in his case is expected on 26 October. At his trial which opened on 18 October, the prosecutor accused the journalist of making comments “against the independence and integrity of the Singapore judiciary” in his book Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock.

Hema Subramanian, a lawyer from the Attorney General’s Chambers, said that Shadrake’s book contained “baseless, unwarranted attacks … that directly attacked the Singapore judiciary.” She termed the allegations in the book as “outrageous, offensive and irresponsible.”

The journalist’s lawyer, M. Ravi, argued that the book was well documented and backed up by evidence. It was a “serious-minded and compassionate examination of the death penalty in Singapore.”

Reporters Without Borders urges the Singapore judiciary to accept Alan Shadrake’s innocence and allow him to leave the country. In fact, the book contains no defamatory remarks, no personal attacks or verbal assaults aimed at undermining the operation of the justice system.

Given that it is simply a critical analysis of the institution and its methods as a result of a rigorous and well documented investigation, this work cannot constitute contempt of court. We would like to stress the fact that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) of which Singapore is a founding member, is a protector of basic freedoms.

Singaporean government in July 1993 joined other member states in supporting the Vienna Declaration on Human Rights 1993 that calls on countries to respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that guarantees freedom of expression.

Shadrake has been forced to stay on in Singapore since July in very difficult circumstances. His passport has been confiscated and his health has deteriorated badly since his arrest in July. He has serious heart problems and recently suffered an internal haemorrhage.

The British journalist is also virtually without resources and suffering serious financial problems.

For more information please click here.

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Posted on 27 October 2010. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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8 Responses to Petition calling for the immediate release of Alan Shadrake

  1. Lee Shih

    tawi sli,

    On the concession to a factual error, it was reported here:…

    "Shadrake, a 75-year-old Briton, conceded he was wrong to state that first-time drug abusers ordinarily received the maximum 10 years' jail."

  2. Some parts of this book are bordering on the vague and baseless.

    For instance, Alan claimed that Singapore struck a deal with German banks securing German investment in Singapore in return for Singapore excusing a German lady from the death penalty.

    However Alan failed to reveal any source for his 'claim' and simply accounted for his failure by saying he could not have obtained such evidence without breaking the law in Singapore.

    Quite a cheap shot on Alan's part, don't you think ?

    But I do agree that as baseless as Alan's book is, the Singaporean government could have used a more PR-friendly approach of debunking his various claims on fact-against-allegation basis instead of a high-handed arrest. The arrest is simply lending undue credence and publicity to this Alan character.

  3. tawi sli


    where did you get info that his lawyer conceded as such? please provide the link?

  4. Eugene

    RwB claims that the book contains no defamatory remarks. Yet in court, his lawyer conceded that a significant error of fact was in the book and undertook to correct it in the next edition. Aaln should just return to his home country(after serving whatever punishment may be meted out to him, if any)and look at his own country. And if he wants to investigate any insitution, the power exercised by the fifth sestate in his country would be agood start.

  5. tebing tinggi

    Allan had make a mistake ,questioning Singapore judicial system,if he were to change the subject instade of Singapore it was Malaysia sure nothing would happened to him.

  6. Pete North

    Agree with you Ron. They should straighten themselves first before going around the world propounding justice. The British are just busy body and nosy people.

  7. Ro Jeremy

    Go ask the British government why they killed the Iraqis & Afghans? He has no business here! Jail him the maximum allowed by the LAW!

  8. Ong Jo-Lene

    Signed it.