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Urgent Interventions

Conviction of Mr. Jolovan Wham

New information

SGP 001 / 1217 / OBS 117.1

Conviction /

Judicial harassment


January 10, 2019

The Observatory for the Protection ofHuman Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World OrganisationAgainst Torture (OMCT), has received information and requests your urgentintervention in the following situation in Singapore.


The Observatory has beeninformed by reliable sources about the conviction of Mr. Jolovan Wham,social worker, human rights advocate, and former Executive Director of the NGOHumanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME)[1].

According to theinformation received, on January 3, 2019, the Singapore Court found Mr. JolovanWham guilty of “organising an illegal assembly without a police permit” underArticle 16(1)(a) of the Public Order Act) in November 2016. The charge stemsfrom Mr. Jolovan Wham’s involvement in the organization of a public discussionheld at an indoor event in Singapore on November 26, 2016. The event saw theparticipation via Skype of Mr. Joshua Wong, a human rightsdefender from Hong Kong, who spoke about civil disobedience and socialmovements. The Court also convicted Mr. Jolovan Wham for refusing to sign apolice statement. The Court scheduled the hearing for his sentencing forJanuary 23, 2019.

Under Article 16(1)(a) ofthe Public Order Act, organising a public assembly without obtaining policepermit is an offense that is punishable with a fine of up to SGD 5,000 (approx.3,140 Euros). Repeat offenders can be fined up to SGD 10,000 (approx. 6,280Euros) or imprisoned for up to six months, or both. For refusing to sign thepolice statement, Mr. Jolovan Wham can be jailed for up to three months, finedup to SGD 2,500 (approx. 1,570 Euros), or both.

Mr. Jolovan Wham faces twoadditional charges of organising a public assembly without a police permit andtwo more charges of not signing the police statements (see backgroundinformation).

The Observatory condemns the conviction andthe ongoing judicial harassment against Mr. Jolovan Wham, which seem to be onlyaimed at punishing him for his legitimate human rights activities and for theexercise of his right to freedom of opinion and expression. The Observatorycalls on the authorities of Singapore to put an immediate end to the judicialharassment of Mr. Jolovan Wham.

The Observatory recallsthat this is not the first act of judicial harassment against Mr. Jolovan Wham.On October 9, 2018, Mr. Wham was found guilty of “scandalising the court”(Article 3 (1)(a) of the 2016 Administration of Justice (Protection) Act) for aFacebook post in which he alleged that Malaysia’s judges were more independentthan Singapore’s regarding cases with political implications[2].

Background information:

In November2016, the police started investigations against Mr. Jolovan Whan fororganising a public discussion entitled “Civil Disobedience and SocialMovements” at an indoor event space in Singapore on November 26, 2016.

On December 20,2016, Mr. Wham recorded his statement at a police station. After learningthat he would not be given a copy, he refused to sign it.

On November 28,2017, Mr. Jolovan Wham was detained at the Central Police Station in Singaporein connection with the November 26, 2016 event. He was released on bail laterthat day.

OnNovember 29, 2017, the State Court charged Mr. Jolovan Wham with: 1) “organisingpublic assemblies without a permit”, under the Public Order Act (three charges);2) “vandalism”, under the Vandalism Act (one charge); and 3) “refusing to signstatements”, under Article 180 of the Criminal Code (three charges). The sevencharges were related to three peaceful gatherings held by various activists,including Mr. Jolovan Wham, in Singapore between November 2016 and July2017 without obtaining prior permission from the police. One of those threegatherings was the event held on November 26, 2016.

Actions requested:

Please write to theauthorities of Singapore asking them to:

i. Guarantee inall circumstances the physical integrity and psychological wellbeingof Mr. Jolovan Wham and all human rights defenders in Singapore;

ii. Put an end to all actsof harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. JolovanWham and all human rights defenders in Singapore, and ensure that they are ableto carry out their activities without hindrance;

iii. Conform to theprovisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by theGeneral Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially Articles1, 6(c), and 12.2; and

iv. Ensure in allcircumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms inaccordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


· Mr. Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister ofSingapore, Fax: +65 6332 8983/6835 6621, Email:; Twitter:@leehsienloong;

· Mr. Kasiviswanathan Shanmugam, Ministerfor Home Affairs, Minister of Law, Fax: +65 62546250/ 633 28842, Email:;

· Mr. Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister forForeign Affairs, Fax: +65 64747885, Email:;

· Mr. Lucien Wong, Attorney General, Fax:+65 6538 9000;

· H.E. Mr. Foo Kok Jwee, Ambassador,Permanent Mission of Singapore in Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41-22-796 8078,Email:;

· H.E. Mr. Jaya Ratnam, Ambassador, Embassyof Singapore in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 2 660 8685;

Please also write to the diplomatic missions orembassies of Singapore in your respective country.


Paris-Geneva, January 10, 2019

Kindly inform us of any action undertakenquoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of HumanRights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the WorldOrganisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is tointervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rightsdefenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of, the European Union Human Rights DefendersMechanism implemented by international civil society.

[1] Founded in2004, the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics is a charitydedicated to assisting foreign workers in Singapore through welfare,empowerment and advocacy.

[2] SeeObservatory Urgent Appeal SGP 002 / 1018 / OBS 127, published on October 19,2018.

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