Singapore: Cease Persecution Against A Child And Release Amos Yee Immediately

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) hereby urges the Singapore authorities to release the 16-year-old blogger Amos Yee Pang Sang from incarceration for a blog and video post about the late Singapore’s founding prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew. We further remind the Singapore government to uphold the people’s rights to freedom of expression – a crucial and fundamental principle to any functioning democratic society.

Speech is an expression of one’s values and identity and should never be restricted unless it is absolutely necessary. While underscoring  that freedom of expression must comes within the boundary of public order and morality, the Singapore government’s decision to charge and convict Amos Yee under Section 292(1) and Section 298 of the penal code seem disproportionate and unnecessary harsh. It is unattainable to hold that expression made by a 16-year-old teenager as a crime and threatened the “public order and morality” of the Singapore society. If anything, the conviction of Amos Yee raise profound question on the authorities’ narrow tolerance towards critical views and rhetoric commitment to democracy.

At the request of prosecution, Amos is currently being assessed for his suitability for the Reformative Training Centre (RTC). If the judges make a decision in favour of RTC, Yee will be detained for a minimum of 18 months.

The manner in which the Singapore authorities handle the case of Amos Yee appears to fall short of that required of international human rights law. Numerous international documents and human rights law had clearly emphasized  freedom of expression as a fundamental rights inherent to all human beings, children[1] included. Article 37 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which the Singapore government is signatory to, clearly provides that  “the arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measures of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time”.

Numerous documents and human rights report had revealed that the Singapore authorities’ restriction on civil and political rights movement, most notably with the use of criminal and civil defamations as a means to silence critics. Criminal law or restriction of free speech should only ever be used when the harm caused or threatened is serious and this is definitely not the case of Amos Yee. There exists many other means for controlling or responding to Amos’ expression, among others, a dialogue with Amos himself, public repudiation of those statements etc.

Amos is currently detained in Changi prison and his lawyers and family members have stated that his physical and psychological condition is deteriorating. SUARAM stands in solidarity with Amos Yes Pang Sang, urging the Singapore government to uphold the people’s right to freedom of expression and Convention on the Rights of the Child Child Convention. We calls for the immediate release of Amos Yee and to drop all charges against him.

 

Release by,

 

Sevan Doraisamy

Executive Director

SUARAM

 


 

[1] Article 1 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child defined child as every human being below the age of eighteen years