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International Commission of Jurists observes Roy Ngerng’s defamation case

After observing the three-day court hearing to determine the amount of damages blogger Roy Ngerng will be required to pay to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for defamation, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) said that Justice Lee Seiu Kin had “conducted himself independently and impartially.”

The ICJ published its observations on its website, also making available the legal opinion that had been submitted to the court in support of Ngerng’s case.

“The right to freedom of expression may be limited in certain circumstances, but these limitations cannot be justified based on the protection of State authorities from public opinion or criticism,” the ICJ wrote in the opinion submitted to the judge, adding that “[s]tatements concerning public officials and other individuals who exercise public functions enjoy greater protection, as they foster democratic debate regarding matters of public interest.”

The ICJ also warned against a “chilling effect on freedom of expression” if damages were “disproportionately high”.

Justice Lee Seiu Kin on Friday had stated that he felt “absolutely no pressure” from foreign organisations, but would accept and consider the points made in both ICJ’s brief as well as that submitted by the Centre for International Law (CentreLaw) in the Philippines.