Amnesty International issues “Urgent Action” notice for charges against Activist Jolovan Wham

International Non-government Organisation, Amnesty International has issued an urgent action notice for the seven charges faced by local activist, Jolovan Wham filed by the Singapore authorities.

Wham is facing seven charges for organizing several peaceful assemblies over a one year period, including a vigil protesting the execution of Malaysian national Prabagaran Srivijayan in July 2017. If found guilty, he could face up to 3 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of SGD$11,000.

On 28 November, Wham was taken into police custody for several hours before being released on police bail and informed that he would be facing seven charges in court the following day.

On 29 November the court confirmed that Jolovan Wham faces seven charges consisting of: three charges under Section 7 of the Public Order Act; three charges for the refusal to sign cautioned statements under Section 180 of the Penal Code on different occasions; and one charge under Section 3 of the Vandalism Act. He was released on bail the same day for the amount of SGD$ 8,000

The case has been set for a Pre-Trial Conference on 13 December 2017. The three charges under Section 7 of the Public Order Act relate to his alleged failure to obtain a permit for three different and distinct peaceful assemblies over the course of a year.

Regarding one of the events, held on 26 November 2016, Jolovan Wham was accused of organizing a public assembly without a permit, with Hong Kong student activist, Joshua Wong, who spoke at the event via Skype.

Amnesty International states that the prosecution of Jolovan Wham reinforces a climate of intimidation and the use of the criminal justice system to harass peaceful activists within the country.

Highlighting that the charges against Wham also violates his universal rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, Amnesty International notes that the Singapore Constitution provides for the right to peaceful assembly but allows the state extensive powers to impose restrictions on it, which go far beyond those permitted under international human rights law and standards.

The international NGO urges members of public to write immediately in English or their own language urging authorities to:

  • Immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against Jolovan Wham as he has been prosecuted solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly;
  • Repeal or amend all legal provisions that violate the right to freedom of expression and assembly, including Section 7 of the Public Order Act;
  • End the penalization, intimidation and harassment of peaceful activists in the country.