Critics of the Singapore Government's decision to repatriate 57 foreign workers involved in the Dec 8 Little India riot have confused two issues, Law Ministry officials said on Saturday.
There is a difference between those who are charged before a court of law and foreigners who are ordered to leave the country, they pointed out.
"A person who faces a criminal charge has a right to due judicial process before he is convicted or acquitted on a charge," said Ms Praveen Randhawa, press secretary to Law Minister K. Shanmugam.
"A foreign national who is subject to repatriation, however, has no right under our laws to challenge the repatriation order in court."
This was an issue Senior Minister of State Indranee Rajah also dwelt on when she spoke to reporters at a community event in Tanjong Pagar GRC on Saturday, addressing criticism levelled by human rights and social activists in Singapore and abroad.
Amnesty International as well as local groups Maruah and Workfair Singapore have criticised what they viewed as the arbitrary deportation of workers who did not have the opportunity to defend themselves in court.
The 57 workers - all Indian nationals except for one Bangladeshi - were sent home last week after being issued stern police warnings and will not be allowed to return here to work.
Calling some of the comments "misguided", Ms Indranee said: "One allegation appears to be 'Oh, no due process', but the question is, due process for what?"
She pointed out the difference in treatment accorded to two groups involved in the riot.