Teenage blogger trial ‘deeply worrying’ sign of Singapore’s attempts to curb free expression

15 August 2016 – Involved over increased criminalization of expression, a United International locations human rights expert today expressed extreme problem approximately the approaching trial of a 17-12 months vintage Singaporean for Fb posts and weblog feedback that wounded the spiritual emotions of Muslims and Christians.

The UN Specific Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, warned in a press release issued with the aid of the usage of the Workplace of the UN Excessive Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), that: “First, the trial worries an expression that is lawful underneath international human rights regulation, and second, the man or woman being tried is taken into consideration a toddler underneath international human rights law.”

The blogger’s trial is scheduled for 17 August. If convicted, he might also face up to a few years in jail. Last 12 months, this equal blogger turned into sentenced to 4 weeks in jail for posting a video that caricatured Singapore’s first Pinnacle Minister, Lee Kuan Yew.

“Tolerance and the rights of others are valid aims for any Country to pursue,” the UN expert stated. “But, the criminalization of a substantial variety of legitimate, even if offensive, expression isn’t the proper tool for this case, and can nicely have the alternative impact.”

Noting that the teen’s trial become considered one in all numerous cases in Singapore, he pointed out that it pondered a widening crackdown – now not the handiest on controversial expression however also political complaint and dissent.

“Worldwide human rights regulation permits the handiest vital and severe instances of incitement to hatred to be prohibited as criminal offences, not exceptional sorts of expression, although they are offensive, disturbing or lovely,” Mr. Kaye pressured.

In might also moreover, human right’s lawyer Teo Soh Lung and blogger Roy Ngerng had been investigated for allegedly breaching the Parliamentary Elections Act through posting, on their  Facebook pages, comments regarding authorities transparency and accountability.

While the Act prohibits campaigning in the Closing 24 hours previous to elections, it explicitly exempts the web expression of a non-public character’s political beliefs. The click launch indicated that this turn out to be the number one time people have been investigated beneath such provisions.

“Threats of criminal motion and court docket cases make contributions to a culture of self-censorship, and prevent the improvement of an open and pluralistic surroundings wherein all types of thoughts and critiques should be debated and rebutted brazenly,” emphasized the UN expert.

Regardless of invoking the Parliamentary Elections Act to research, are seeking for and confiscate the assets of Teo Soh Lung and Roy Ngerng, no costs have, up to now, been brought toward them.

“States are under a responsibility now not only to admire and protect, However moreover to promote freedom of expression. Expanded criminalization of expression is in breach of this responsibility,” concluded Mr. Kaye.

Precise Rapporteurs are appointed with the aid of the UN Human Rights Council to have a examine and report once more on a selected human rights situation or a rustic state of affairs. The positions are honorary and the experts aren’t UN employees, nor are they paid for his or her art work.