Urgent Interventions

Judicial harassment against Mr. Jolovan Wham and eight other peaceful demonstrators

SGP 001 / 1217 / OBS 117

Judicial harassment


December8, 2017

The Observatory for the Protection of Human RightsDefenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture(OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Singapore.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources aboutthe judicial harassment against Mr. JolovanWham, social worker, human rights advocate, and former Executive Directorof the NGO Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME)[1],and eight other activists[2]for the exercise of their right to peaceful assembly.

According to the information received, on November 28, 2017,Mr. Jolovan Whan was detained at the Central Police Station in Singapore, andreleased on bail later that day.

On November 29, 2017, the State Court charged Mr. JolovanWham with: 1) “organising public assemblies without a permit”, under the PublicOrder Act (three charges); 2) “vandalism”, under the Vandalism Act (onecharge); and 3) “refusing to sign statements”, under Article 180 of theCriminal Code (three charges). The seven charges are related to three peacefulgatherings held by various activists, including Mr. Jolovan Wham, in Singaporebetween November 2016 and July 2017 without obtaining prior permission from thepolice.

Under Article 16(1)(a) of the Public Order Act, organising apublic assembly without obtaining police permit is an offense that ispunishable with fines of up to SGD 5,000 (approx. 3,140 Euros). Repeatoffenders can be fined up to SGD 10,000 (approx. 6,280 Euros) or imprisoned forup to six months, or both. Under Article 3 of the Vandalism Act, the offence ofvandalism is punishable with a fine not exceeding SGD 2,000 (approx. 1256Euros) or imprisonment not exceeding three years.

The three peaceful gatherings from which the charges underthe Public Order Act stem were: 1) a forum to discuss civil disobedience andsocial movement (held on November 26, 2016); 2) a silent protest on a MassRapid Transport (MRT) train to mark the 30th anniversary of the detentionwithout trial of 22 people under the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA) aspart of Operation Spectrum inMay-June 1987 (held on June 3, 2017); and (3) a candlelight vigil outsideChangi Prison to support the family of Prabagaran Srivijayan, a Malaysiannational, awaiting execution for drug trafficking (held on July 13, 2017)[3].

Moreover, on December 5, 2017, eight other activists whotook part in the three above-referenced peaceful assemblies reported themselvesvoluntarily to the police and were given warnings that may be facing chargesshould they participate in other gatherings.

The Observatory denounces the judicial harassment of Mr.Jolovan Wham and the other above-mentioned activists, which only aims atpunishing them for their peaceful and legitimate human rights activities andthe exercise of their right to peaceful assembly.

Actions requested:

Please write to theSingaporean authorities to urge them to:

i. Drop all chargesagainst Mr. Jolovan Wham;

ii. Put an end to all forms ofharassment, includingat the judicial level, against Mr. Jolovan Wham, the above-mentioneddemonstrators and all human rights defenders in the country so that theyare able to carry out their work without hindrance;

iii. Ensure full respect for the right topeaceful assembly in accordance with relevant international human rightsstandards;

iv.Comply with the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human RightsDefenders, in particular with its Articles 1, 6(c) and 12.2;

v.Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedomsin accordance with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.


· Mr. Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister ofSingapore, Fax: +65 63328983/68356621, Email:; Twitter:@leehsienloong

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

· Mr. Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for ForeignAffairs, Fax: +65 64747885, Email:;

· Mr. Lucien Wong, Attorney General, Fax: +656538 9000

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

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

Pleasealso write to the diplomatic representations of Singapore in your respectivecountries.


Paris-Geneva,December 8, 2017

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of thisappeal in your reply.

TheObservatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) wascreated in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). Theobjective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repressionagainst human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of, theEuropean Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by internationalcivil society.

To contactthe Observatory, call the emergency line:

· E-mail:

· Tel and faxOMCT +41 22 809 49 39 / +41 22 809 49 29

· Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 143 55 18 80

[1] Founded in 2004, theHumanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics is a charity dedicated toassisting foreign workers in Singapore through welfare, empowerment andadvocacy.

[2] As of publishing thisUrgent Appeal no information was available regarding the names of these eightactivists.

[3] FIDH Press Release, Haltthe execution of Prabagaran Srivijayan, published on July 12, 2017.