FLD asks Singapore to quash human rights activist conviction

Front Line Defenders (FLD) condemns the unjust conviction of Jolovan Wham as the organisation believes that the human rights defender has been found guilty solely as a result of his legitimate and peaceful work in the defence of human rights. It urges the authorities in Singapore to quash the conviction handed down to Jolovan Wham and to suspend the pending sentencing.

According to FLD, Singapore’s High Court convicted human rights defender Jolovam Wham of “scandalising the Court” under the country’s new contempt of court laws, last Tuesday. He is the first person to be found guilty since the enactment of the Administration of Justice (Protection) Act in October 2017. This version of the Act significantly lowers the standard of proof for its  application from “real risk” to “risk”, putting human rights defenders and the general public in danger of judicial harassment.

The High Court pronounced Jolovan Wham guilty when it found that a Facebook post that the human rights defender had made impugned the integrity and impartiality of the Singapore courts. It also found that from the view of an “average reasonable person”, the post made by Jolovan Wham poses a risk of undermining public confidence in the administration of justice.

On April 27, Jolovan Wham shared a link to a news story detailing a constitutional challenge against the Anti-Fake News Act in Malaysia, commenting that “Malaysian judges are more independent than Singapore’s in cases with political implications” and that it would be “interesting to see” how the case fared. The sentencing in the case has been set for 7 November 2018. Jolovan Wham faces a fine of 100 000 Singaporean Dollars (USD 73 394) and/or a prison sentence of up to three years.

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