Population: 4.3 million (1 million under 18)
Government Armed Forces: 72,500
Compulsary Recruitment Age: 18
Voluntary Recruitment Age: 16
Voting Age: 21
Optional Protocol: signed 7 September 2000
Other Treaties: CRC, ILO 138, ILO 182

Recruits could volunteer for military service in the armed forces from the age of 16 and a half.


National recruitment legislation and practice

Under the 1970 Enlistment Act, male citizens and permanent residents aged 16 and a half were required to register and to undergo a physical examination,1 but only those aged 18 and over were liable to perform military service. Full-time service was for two to two and a half years according to rank attained during service.2

Males over the age of 16 and a half could enlist earlier under the Voluntary Early Enlistment Scheme (VEES) with parental consent. They were required to undergo medical and psychological screening to determine their capacity to cope with the national service training, and to serve for the same period as those conscripted under the national service program.3 The Enlistment Act also permitted "any person" to apply for regular (volunteer) service in the armed forces.4

All those who enlisted were required to undergo basic military training for between seven and 26 weeks, depending on physical capacity.5 Information concerning training programs specifically for recruits under 18 was unavailable, as were statistics on the number of under-18s who had voluntarily enlisted.

Persons undergoing national service were provided with medical and psychological counselling services. They were provided with a monthly allowance and permitted to have contacts with their family on a regulated basis.6

Refusal to enlist and to perform national service was an offence under the Enlistment Act, punishable by a fine, imprisonment of not more than three years, or both.7 At least 14 conscientious objectors were imprisoned between 2004 and 2006, and others continued to serve prison sentences; all were members of the banned Jehovah's Witness religious group. No alternatives to military service were offered.8

The Children and Young Persons Act (1993, amended 2001) provided for the general protection of the rights and welfare of children – defined as under 14 – and young people – defined as over 14 and under 16. The Act contained no specific provisions prohibiting the recruitment or use of children in conflict situations, nor did it refer explicitly to children involved in conflict situations as being among those in need of protection. However, the Act provided that "any act which endangers or is likely to endanger the safety of the child or young person" was a criminal offence.

1 Enlistment Act, Chapter 93.

2 Central Manpower Base, Ministry of Defence, "My Son, the NS Man: What Parents Should Know About the NS", 2007, www.ns.sg.

3 "Register for NS-FAQ-Enlistment", www.ns.sg.

4 Enlistment Act, above note 1, Article 19.

5 "About BMT", 2006, www.mindef.gov.sg/; "My Son, The NS Man", above note 2.

6 "My Son, the NS Man", above note 2.

7 Enlistment Act, above note 1, Article 33.

8 Amnesty International, Annual Reports 2005, 2006 and 2007.


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