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Urgent Interventions

Judicial harassment of Mr. Jolovan Wham


SGP 001 / 1120 / OBS 133

Arbitrary detention /

Judicial harassment /

November 25,

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a jointpartnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requestsyour urgent intervention in the following situation in Singapore.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources aboutthe judicial harassment of Mr. Jolovan Wham, social worker, human rightsdefender, and former Executive Director of the NGO Humanitarian Organisationfor Migration Economics (HOME).

According to the information received, on November 23, 2020,Mr. Jolovan Wham was charged in the District Court with two offences under thePublic Order Act.

The first charge of ‘illegal assembly’ stems from astand-alone protest outside a police station in March 2020 during which Mr.Jolovan Wham held a placard with a hand-drawn smiley face to show his supportfor young climate change activists who had been questioned by police oversimilar solo protests. The second charge of ‘illegal assembly’ relates toanother stand-alone protest carried out in December 2018 outside the StateCourts with a placard urging charges of criminal defamation be dropped againstwebsite editor Terry Xu and writer Daniel De Costa over an article on allegedcorruption. For both charges, Mr. Wham faces a maximum fine of S$5,000 dollars(3,135 €).

According to Singapore law, the locations of both protestsare within a prohibited area delineated in the Public Order (Prohibited Areas)Order 2009. Residents are only allowed to participate in public assemblieswithout a police permit at ‘Speakers Corner.’

On the day of the November 23 hearing, Mr. Jolovan Wham wasbriefly held in custody at the court because the Prosecutor increased the bailamount from the announced S$8,000 (5,000 €) to S$15,000 (9,400 €) withoutnotice, and a bailor had to be called over. Mr. Wham was released on the sameday after his brother paid the new bail amount.

The Observatory is extremely concerned about this latest actof judicial harassment targeting Mr. Jolovan Wham[1]and recalls that in August 2020, Mr. Jolovan Wham spent ten days in jail afterhe was found guilty under the Public Order Act of ‘illegal assembly’ afterorganising a private forum in 2016 at which Hong Kong pro-democracy activistMr. Joshua Wong spoke over Skype[2].

The Observatory calls on the authorities to immediately dropall charges against Mr. Jolovan Wham and to put an end to all acts ofharassment against him, as they only aim at punishing him for his legitimatehuman rights activities.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Singapore asking them to:

i. Put an end to all acts ofharassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Jolovan Wham and allhuman rights defenders in Singapore, and ensure that they are able to carry outtheir activities without hindrance;

ii. Conform to the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human RightsDefenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9,1998, in particular with Articles 1, and 12.2;

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


Mr. Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister ofSingapore, Email:; Twitter: @leehsienloong;

Mr. Kasiviswanathan Shanmugam, Ministerfor Home Affairs, Minister of Law, Email:;

Mr. Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister forForeign Affairs, Email:;

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

H.E. Mr. Foo Kok Jwee, Ambassador,Permanent Mission of Singapore in Geneva, Switzerland,;

H.E. Mr. Jaya Ratnam, Ambassador,Embassy of Singapore in Brussels, Belgium, Email:

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Singapore in yourrespective countries.


Paris-Geneva, November 25, 2020

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of thisappeal 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 toprevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDHand OMCT are both members of, the EuropeanUnion Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civilsociety.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:


TelFIDH +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18

Tel OMCT +41 (0) 22 809 49 39

[1] See, inparticular, Observatory Urgent Appeals SGP 002 / 1018 / OBS 127.2, published onMarch 18, 2020 and SGP 001 / 1217 / OBS 117.3, published on October 30, 2020.

[2] See Observatory Urgent Appeal SGP 001 / 1217 / OBS 117.3, published onOctober 30, 2019.

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