In contrast with Singapore's reputation as a successful economic hub, human rights defenders face lawsuits, fines, arrest and detention, and travel bans as a result of their legitimate work. Singapore has an extremely strict criminal defamation law, under which even those indirectly involved in producing an allegedly libelous article can be sued; printers, news vendors, authors and editors are all susceptible to charges. Chee Soon Juan, the leader of the Singapore Democratic Party and a staunch advocate for the right of freedom of expression went bankrupt after numerous defamation suits by the country's ministers. He is currently barred from contesting in public office and from leaving the country. The Speakers' Corner, where people may demonstrate or hold talks, remains the only space in the city-state where the right to freedom of expression is allowed to be exercised freely.
In June 2012, Singaporeans for Democracy (SFD), a civil society network composed of independent HRDs decided to disband because of continuing pressure and overly burdensome regulation of their activities, including police refusal to permit them to hold an International Human Rights Day parade. Singapore has not accepted requests for a visit by the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders. Two requests were made by the mandate in 2002 and 2004. During its Universal Periodic Review in 2011, Singapore responded negatively to a recommendation made by the Czech Republic that it should accept the visit of the UN Special Rapporteur.