SINGAPORE (AFP) - Singapore on Thursday angrily accused Washington of “double standards” on human rights after a US State Dept annual report criticised the city-state’s tough internal-security laws. The Foreign Ministry said the US report “again includes the same gross inaccuracies and misrepresentations of the Singapore Govt’s policies that we have rebutted in detail year after year”. The US report said Singapore’s continued use of the Internal Security Act  gave the government “broad powers” to curtail citizens’ rights.  The ISA provides the govt  “with the power to limit, on vaguely defined national security grounds, the scope of certain fundamental liberties that otherwise are provided for in the constitution”, US report said.

But it acknowledged that the ISA has been used in recent years against alleged terrorists, and not members of the political opposition.

“We are disturbed by the double standards applied to the US’ criticism of our (ISA), which is meant to address threats to internal security, including threats to public order, communal and religious harmony, and subversive and terrorist activities,” Singapore’s foreign ministry said.

It asked how Washington can reconcile its criticism of the ISA with the existence of US detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

“By contrast to the Guantanamo detention facilities, which exist outside the framework of US law, the ISA provides a proper legal framework, and prescribes rules, for preventive detention,” the foreign ministry said.

The US report said Singapore’s parliamentary elections in May 2011 and a presidential vote three months later were “generally free and fair”.

However, it said the ruling People’s Action Party “benefited from the use of legal restrictions that handicap the political opposition”.

The report also addressed Singapore’s use of caning as a punishment for certain crimes, and government restrictions on public assembly and freedom of the press.

“Singapore does not claim that our system is perfect, or that our system would necessarily work in other countries. Our government is held accountable to the public through democratic elections and the rule of law,” the MFA said.

It added that Singapore will adapt its policies in the interests of its own people and as its society evolves.