Amnesty International has expressed concern that the 15 suspected Islamic terrorists arrested in Singapore last month may be subject to 'abusive psychological and physical pressure'.
The London-based organisation has long campaigned against the provisions of the Internal Security Act (ISA), the law under which the suspects are held. Inherited from the colonial authorities, the statute allows for detention without trial in cases affecting national security.
The 15 - who have not been named - had links with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network and were plotting to bomb diplomatic, military and commercial targets in the city-state, the authorities said. The US Embassy and other US-linked premises were said to be on the target list.
The Singapore authorities did not return calls seeking comment yesterday.
An Amnesty spokesman said people arrested in the 1980s under the ISA suffered 'abusive psychological and physical pressure'. 'Amnesty International is concerned that the recent ISA detainees . . . are likely to have experienced similar interrogation techniques,' the spokesman said.
In the late 1980s, the Singapore Government held several suspected 'Marxists' under the ISA. Some of those detained later complained that they had been ill-treated by their questioners.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has argued that the ISA is a 'powerful law' that has been used 'sparingly over the years as a measure of last resort'.
ISA detainees have the right to be informed in writing as to why they are being held, but may not challenge the accusations in open court. Instead they may appeal to an advisory board, headed by a Supreme Court justice, which makes recommendations to the President.
Amnesty's intervention came as veteran Singaporean opposition figure Joshua Jeyaretnam called yesterday for the suspects to be brought before a court.
'There is no reason for not producing in court all those arrested where the police have found evidence of their involvement,' the former MP said.