Singapore: Judicial harassment against Mr. Jolovan Wham and eight other activists

Urgent Appeal

SGP 001 / 1217 / OBS 117
Judicial harassment
December 8, 2017

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Singapore.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the judicial harassment against Mr. Jolovan Wham, social worker, human rights advocate, and former Executive Director of the NGO Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME) [1]., and eight other activists for the exercise of their right to peaceful assembly.

According to the information received, on November 28, 2017, Mr. Jolovan Whan was detained at the Central Police Station in Singapore, and released on bail later that day.

On November 29, 2017, the State Court charged Mr. Jolovan Wham with: 1) "organising public assemblies without a permit", under the Public Order Act (three charges); 2) "vandalism", under the Vandalism Act (one charge); and 3) "refusing to sign statements", under Article 180 of the Criminal Code (three charges). The seven charges are related to three peaceful gatherings held by various activists, including Mr. Jolovan Wham, in Singapore between November 2016 and July 2017 without obtaining prior permission from the police.

Under Article 16(1)(a) of the Public Order Act, organising a public assembly without obtaining police permit is an offense that is punishable with fines of up to SGD 5,000 (approx. 3,140 Euros). Repeat offenders can be fined up to SGD 10,000 (approx. 6,280 Euros) or imprisoned for up to six months, or both. Under Article 3 of the Vandalism Act, the offence of vandalism is punishable with a fine not exceeding SGD 2,000 (approx. 1256 Euros) or imprisonment not exceeding three years.

The three peaceful gatherings from which the charges under the Public Order Act stem were: 1) a forum to discuss civil disobedience and social movement (held on November 26, 2016); 2) a silent protest on a Mass Rapid Transport (MRT) train to mark the 30th anniversary of the detention without trial of 22 people under the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA) as part of Operation Spectrum in May-June 1987 (held on June 3, 2017); and (3) a candlelight vigil outside Changi Prison to support the family of Prabagaran Srivijayan, a Malaysian national, awaiting execution for drug trafficking (held on July 13, 2017) [2].

Moreover, on December 5, 2017, eight other activists who took part in the three above-referenced peaceful assemblies reported themselves voluntarily to the police and were given warnings that may be facing charges should they participate in other gatherings.

The Observatory denounces the judicial harassment of Mr. Jolovan Wham and the other above-mentioned activists, which only aims at punishing them for their peaceful and legitimate human rights activities and the exercise of their right to peaceful assembly.

Actions requested:

Please write to the Singaporean authorities to urge them to:

i. Drop all charges against Mr. Jolovan Wham;

ii. Put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Jolovan Wham, the above-mentioned demonstrators and all human rights defenders in the country so that they are able to carry out their work without hindrance;

iii. Ensure full respect for the right to peaceful assembly in accordance with relevant international human rights standards;

iv. Comply with the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular with its Articles 1, 6(c) and 12.2;

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.


· Mr. Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore, Fax: +65 63328983/68356621, Email:; Twitter: @leehsienloong
· Mr. Kasiviswanathan Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs, Minister of Law, Fax: +65 62546250/ 633 28842, Email:;
· Mr. Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Fax: +65 64747885, Email:;
· Mr. Lucien Wong, Attorney General, Fax: +65 6538 9000
· H.E. Mr Foo Kok Jwee, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Singapore in Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41-22-796 8078, E-mail:;
· H.E. Mr. Jaya Ratnam, Ambassador, Embassy of Singapore in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 2 660 8685; Email:

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Singapore in your respective countries.

Paris-Geneva, December 8, 2017

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
· E-mail:
· Tel and fax OMCT +41 22 809 49 39 / +41 22 809 49 29
· Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

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