Singapore authorities should exonerate a 16-year-old convicted for a blog and video post about the death of Singapore’s founding prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, Human Rights Watch said today. Amos Yee Pang Sang has a sentencing hearing on June 23, 2015, and faces up to three years in prison or 18 months in a juvenile detention center. On May 12 a court found Yee guilty of uploading an allegedly obscene image and making remarks deemed “insulting to religion” in a video.

“Nothing that Amos Yee said or posted should ever have been considered criminal – much less merit incarceration,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The dismal state of Singapore’s respect for free expression can be seen in the decision to impose the criminal justice system on outspoken 16-year-olds.”

On March 27, Yee posted a video titled “Lee Kuan Yew is dead” on YouTube, and the next day published an image of two cartoon figures having sex, with photos of Lee, who died on March 23, and the late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher superimposed on their heads. Singapore prosecutors charged Yee with violating penal code article 298 (“uttering words with deliberate intent to wound the religious or racial feelings of any person”), punishable by three years in prison and a fine, and penal code article 292(1)(a) for transmitting obscene materials, punishable by a fine. Prosecutors filed a third charge, for violating the Prevention of Harassment Act, which outlaws “use [of] any threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior,” but later withdrew the count.

The government has gone to extraordinary lengths to restrict Yee’s free expression rights, Human Rights Watch said. Bail conditions set on March 31 included a gag order that Yee not post any content or comments online while his case was ongoing. After he posted a note seeking donations to support his cause, the court immediately called him for violating his bail, and jailed him from April 17-21. On April 29, he again posted content online, and the next day was jailed at Changi Prison until his trial.

Under article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, whose provisions are widely recognized as customary international law, “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media.” As a person under 18, Yee is protected by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Singapore ratified in 1995. The convention guarantees children’s rights to freedom of expression.

In the Yee case, Singapore authorities have violated other rights protected under the Child Rights Convention, Human Rights Watch said. Under the convention, children are only to be detained “as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time.” Moreover, in all government actions concerning children, “the best interests of the child shall be the primary consideration.”

However, by the time he was convicted, Yee had spent 18 days in jail for a nonviolent offense. When brought to court for his trial on May 7, he was handcuffed, had his legs shackled, and was wearing a prison-supplied t-shirt with “prisoner” emblazoned across the back.

On June 2, Yee rejected the prosecution’s proposal of a punishment of probation and a period of time in a Reformative Training Center (RTC). The court returned him to custody and ordered preparation of a report on the suitability of placing him in the RTC. If placed in the RTC, Yee would be expected to serve a minimum of 18 months, much longer than prison sentences meted out to other recent offenders found guilty of obscenity or insulting religion charges.

The government’s overall handling of the case raises concerns for Yee’s safety, Human Rights Watch said. Yee’s lawyers informed the court on June 12 that after he expressed suicidal thoughts to a prison psychiatrist, Yee was strapped to a bed in the prison’s medical facility for a day and a half – an excessive response that did not appear designed to address genuine mental health concerns. On April 30, a man assaulted Yee outside the courthouse; although the assailant was arrested and sentenced in May to three weeks in prison, the attack raises concerns about the authorities’ obligation to ensure Yee’s safety. Yee has also been subjected to hate campaigns online including threats of violence, which the authorities do not appear to have adequately investigated.

“Any further incarceration of Yee will just compound the damage to Singapore’s already poor reputation on basic freedoms,” Robertson said. “Nothing short of Yee’s release and the dismissal of all charges will vindicate Singapore’s justice system.”

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
You May Also Like


陈清木医生,前进党秘书长,2021新年致辞 新的一年将至。弃旧迎新之际,我回顾过去一年的得失,喜见新加坡政坛继续蓬勃发展,选民也趋向成熟。但令我更感欣慰的是有许多来自不同领域的杰出才俊,不畏强权挺身而出,选择与我并肩参加2020年的大选。 在2020年,国人已经觉醒,意识到如果政府能够更富有同情心,政策制定和实施时更具透明度及更好奉行问责制,那新加坡的国家发展将会更美好。 新加坡已经跟40年前我初入政坛时不可同日而语。今天,精英主义横行,政治领袖任人唯亲,国人要在事业和生活中取得成功,靠的不单只是努力和能力,更需要政治意识的正确性。这发展趋势令人堪忧,我们必需认真对待,并应致力改变此趋势。 前进党的党员和支持者挺身而出,就是为了要塑造一个更美好的新加坡,更平等的社会。 2020年对所有人来说都是艰苦的一年,我们目前正经历着立国以来最严重的经济衰退。无论是哪个行业,都因这次的经济下滑收到冲击。 我们当中有些人失去了工作, 也有些人感染了冠状病毒。大家都寄望新的一年能为国家经济注入新的气象。 深受其害的不只是新加坡。全世界都因冠状病毒的肆虐而陷入停滞。这病毒是无形的,各国政府能做的就只能是通过封城或行动限制令来阻止它的快速传播。代价是经济发展因而停顿,许多社区与人民也因此陷入经济困境。 新加坡既没有对冠状病毒的免疫力,也不能幸免于因疫情肆虐所带来的经济冲击。 许多新加坡人已经跌至贫困线下,他们因为政府不愿设定明确的贫困线,未能及时受到经济援助。 所幸的是,下来疫苗接种计划的全面开展,能为疫情的有效控制带来一丝希望。…

郑亚烈不幸病故 女儿泣谢国人支持

今日(29日)中午,患上冠状病毒19的70岁老翁郑亚烈不敌病魔,在12时12分撒手人寰。郑亚烈的女儿郑秀萍(Ashley Chung)在脸书感慨发文,对国人的慰问和支持表达感激,也感谢中央医院的医疗团队已不懈守护父亲。 她在帖文中指父亲在过去30天,顽强地抵抗病魔来袭,“他是仁慈的好爸爸,一直以来都竭尽所能爱护自己的家人。他的精神会与我们同在。” 她也感谢国人诚挚的慰问和支持。也提到总理李显龙也向她们一家致以维文,同时也感谢中央医院医疗团队日以继夜守护着父亲。 与此同时,郑秀萍不忘提醒国人,应切记社会责任,“我的父亲从未到过境外感染灾区,也和任何感染群没有关联。他如何感染病毒,对我们家属来说至今仍是个谜。” 避免不负责任行为 她希望群众引以为戒,避免因为不负责任行为,造成另一个宝贵生命的损失。“请大家尽我们一份力量,团结一致,保持健康卫生。” 郑亚烈是第109例确诊病例,他在上月29日到中央医院就诊,本月2日确诊,此后就一直待在加护病房。送院时已出现肺部功能衰竭,确诊时已然病重,须依赖机器呼吸。 他同时也有高血压和高脂血症病史。

Tharman says to give SGs hope and career advancement while Prof Koh cautions more driving grab

In a speech live-streamed on the People’s Action Party’s (PAP) Facebook page…