Urgent Interventions

Judicial harassment and conviction of Mr. Jolovan Wham

SGP 002 / 1018 / OBS 127

Conviction /

Judicial harassment


October 19, 2018

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.

Descriptionof the situation:

The Observatory has beeninformed by reliable sources about the judicial harassment and conviction ofMr. Jolovan Wham, social worker, human rights advocate, and formerExecutive Director of the NGO Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics(HOME)[1].

According to theinformation received, on October 9, 2018, the Singapore High Court found Mr.Jolovan Wham guilty of violating Article 3 (1) (a) of the 2016 Administrationof Justice (Protection) Act (“scandalising the court”). Mr. Jolovan Wham’sprosecution and conviction stemmed from one of his Facebook posts published onApril 27, 2018, in which he shared a news story about a constitutionalchallenge against Malaysia’s Anti-Fake News Act and commented that Malaysianjudges were “more independent than Singapore’s for cases with politicalimplication”. The Attorney-General Chambers (AGC) reasoned that the post “didnot constitute fair criticism of the court” and that it “posed a riskthat public confidence in the administration of justice would be undermined”.Mr. Jolovan Wham’s sentencing hearing has been set for November 7, 2018. Hefaces up to three years in jail or a fine of S$100,000 (around 62,740 Euros),or both.

This is the firstconviction for “scandalising the court” under the 2016 Administration ofJustice (Protection) Act, which came into effect on October 1, 2017. This crimeis defined as “Any person who scandalises the court by intentionallypublishing any matter or doing any act that —(i) imputes improper motivesto or impugns the integrity, propriety or impartiality of any court;and (ii) poses a risk that public confidence in the administration ofjustice would be undermined”.

The Observatory condemns the conviction andthe judicial harassment against Mr. Jolovan Wham, which seem to be only aimedat 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 against Mr. Jolovan Wham.

The Observatory recallsthat this is not the first act of judicial harassment against Mr. Jolovan WhamOn November 29, 2017, the State Court charged Mr. Jolovan Wham with “organisingpublic assemblies without a permit” (under the Public Order Act), “vandalism”(under then Vandalism Act) and “refusing to sign statement” (under Article 180of the Criminal Code). These charges were related to three peaceful gatheringsheld between November 2016 and July 2017[2]. The prosecution of Mr. Jolovan Wham inconnection with this case is ongoing.

Actions requested:

Please write to theauthorities of Singapore asking them to:

i. Guarantee inall circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. JolovanWham 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, October 19, 2018

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] See the Observatory Urgent Appeal SGP 001/ 1217 / OBS 117, published on December 8, 2017.

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