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Amos Yee surrounded by media when he left state court. Photo - Straits Times.

CAN: Excessive to send Amos to a Reformative Training Centre

By Community Action Network

We note with alarm, a letter from Amos Yee’s lawyer stating that his client was recently placed on suicide watch while in remand. According to the letter, Amos was strapped down for one-and-a-half days, and kept in a room along with two other persons of unsound mind. He was also denied access to toilet facilities and had to relieve himself in a bottle next to his bed. It is unclear if Amos was given any counseling for harbouring suicidal thoughts.

Amos has been found guilty of wounding religious feelings and of distributing material deemed obscene by the court. He has declined probation and is asking instead for either a fine or a prison term. The judge has however ordered that he be placed in remand while the State assesses his suitability for reformative training.

CAN believes that sending Amos to a Reformative Training Centre is excessive. Sentences last a minimum of 18 months and are usually reserved for repeat offenders who are prone to gangsterism or drug-related crimes. Amos is guilty of neither. He is not a hardcore criminal, has not displayed any violent tendencies and has never expressed an interest in drugs.

Further, as pointed out by Amos’ lawyer Mr Alfred Dodwell, reformative training was not presented as a possibility during the trial. It would thus be unfair for the judge to impose such a punishment at this stage.

By the time he receives his official sentence, Amos would have already spent 39 days in remand. In contrast, the man found guilty of assaulting him outside the courthouse was only behind bars for 3 weeks. We urge the court to consider sentencing Amos to time already served. We also ask the relevant authorities to look into protocols on how inmates with suicidal tendencies are treated.

Signatories – Shelley Thio, Lynn Lee, Joshua Chiang, Jolovan Wham, Jennifer Teo, Woon Tien Wei, Rachel Zeng, Roy Ngerng and Martyn See.