Singapore: Judicial harassment of Mr. Jolovan Wham

Urgent Appeal
Credit : Jolovan Wham

SGP 001 / 1120 / OBS 133
Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment /
November 25, 2020

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint 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 of Mr. Jolovan Wham, social worker, human rights defender, and former Executive Director of the NGO Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME).

According to the information received, on November 23, 2020, Mr. Jolovan Wham was charged in the District Court with two offences under the Public Order Act.

The first charge of ‘illegal assembly’ stems from a stand-alone protest outside a police station in March 2020 during which Mr. Jolovan Wham held a placard with a hand-drawn smiley face to show his support for young climate change activists who had been questioned by police over similar solo protests. The second charge of ‘illegal assembly’ relates to another stand-alone protest carried out in December 2018 outside the State Courts with a placard urging charges of criminal defamation be dropped against website editor Terry Xu and writer Daniel De Costa over an article on alleged corruption. For both charges, Mr. Wham faces a maximum fine of S$5,000 dollars (3,135 €).

According to Singapore law, the locations of both protests are within a prohibited area delineated in the Public Order (Prohibited Areas) Order 2009. Residents are only allowed to participate in public assemblies without a police permit at ‘Speakers Corner.’

On the day of the November 23 hearing, Mr. Jolovan Wham was briefly held in custody at the court because the Prosecutor increased the bail amount from the announced S$8,000 (5,000 €) to S$15,000 (9,400 €) without notice, and a bailor had to be called over. Mr. Wham was released on the same day after his brother paid the new bail amount.

The Observatory is extremely concerned about this latest act of judicial harassment targeting Mr. Jolovan Wham [1] and recalls that in August 2020, Mr. Jolovan Wham spent ten days in jail after he was found guilty under the Public Order Act of ‘illegal assembly’ after organising a private forum in 2016 at which Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Mr. Joshua Wong spoke over Skype [2].

The Observatory calls on the authorities to immediately drop all charges against Mr. Jolovan Wham and to put an end to all acts of harassment against him, as they only aim at punishing him for his legitimate human rights activities.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Singapore asking them to:

i. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Jolovan Wham and all human rights defenders in Singapore, and ensure that they are able to carry out their activities without hindrance;

ii. Conform to the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, in particular with Articles 1, and 12.2;

iii. Ensure respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


● Mr. Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore, Email:; Twitter: @leehsienloong;
● Mr. Kasiviswanathan Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs, Minister of Law, Email:;
● Mr. Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Email:;
● Mr. Lucien Wong, Attorney General, Fax: +65 6538 9000;
● H.E. Mr. Foo Kok Jwee, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Singapore in Geneva, Switzerland, Email:;
● H.E. Mr. Jaya Ratnam, Ambassador, Embassy of Singapore in Brussels, Belgium, Email:

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

Paris-Geneva, November 25, 2020

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 FIDH +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18
● Tel OMCT +41 (0) 22 809 49 39

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