Singapore authorities should cease investigating human rights lawyer Ravi Madasamy, widely known as M Ravi, and three other individuals for contempt of court under the Administration of Justice (Protection) Act (AJPA), urged the Southeast Asian Public Interest Lawyers (SEAPIL).
In a statement last Sunday (3 May), SEAPIL argued that that the police raids and confiscation of electronic equipment of Mr Ravi and TOC’s editor-in-chief Terry Xu as part of an ongoing investigation under AJPA “are a clear example of an attempt to restrict free expression and public discourse on the functions of the courts in Singapore, and have a chilling effect on the role of a lawyer in delivering justice”.
“As a country that firmly applies the rule of law, which is the foundation for human rights, Singapore should ensure that expressing a critical opinion about the administration of justice is not a criminal offence.
“The Government of Singapore should stop the use of restrictive laws like AJPA to silence peaceful critics, lawyers, and human rights defenders,” said SEAPIL.
The network of lawyers also called upon the Singapore High Court to issue “an ex parte order prohibiting the Attorney-General’s Office and the Singapore Police Force from reviewing the contents of the seized mobile phone and laptop”, citing “the client attorney’s legal professional privilege”.
The ongoing police investigations against Mr Ravi and Mr Xu are based on articles published on the TOC website regarding the extradition of Mr Ravi’s client Mohan Rajangam to Malaysia in 2015 over a murder charge, from which Mr Mohan was eventually cleared of.
The Singaporean man and the author of the articles are also being investigated alongside Mr Ravi and Mr Xu.
SEAPIL opined that while police are of the view that the articles had posed a “real risk of prejudicing or interfering with the course of such proceedings”, it was unclear as to “which part of the publication was considered as contempt of court”.