Singapore: Sentencing in appeal of Mr. Jolovan Wham (Update)Event
- Initial Date
- Mar 16, 2020
- Event Description
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the sentencing of Mr. Jolovan Wham, social worker, human rights advocate, and former Executive Director of the NGO Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME) .
According to the information received, on March 16, 2020, Singapore’s Court of Appeal upheld the High Court’s judgement issued on April 29, 2019, which sentenced Mr. Jolovan Wham to S$5,000 (around 3,290 Euros) or one week of prison, in case he could not pay the fine. In addition, the Court of Appeal ordered Mr. Jolovan Wham to remove his Facebook post in which he made comments about the independence of the Singaporean and Malaysian courts (see background information).
The Observatory condemns the sentencing and ongoing judicial harassment against Mr. Jolovan Wham, which seem to be only aimed at punishing him for his legitimate human rights activities and for the exercise of his right to freedom of opinion and expression. The Observatory calls on the authorities of Singapore to put an immediate end to the harassment against Mr. Jolovan Wham.
On October 9, 2018, the Singapore High Court found Mr. Jolovan Wham guilty of violating Article 3 (1) (a) of the 2016 Administration of Justice (Protection) Act (“scandalising the court”). Mr. Jolovan Wham’s prosecution and conviction stemmed from one of his Facebook posts published on April 27, 2018, in which he shared a news story about a constitutional challenge against Malaysia’s Anti-Fake News Act and commented that Malaysian judges were “more independent than Singapore’s for cases with political implication”. The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) reasoned that the post “did not constitute fair criticism of the court” and that it “posed a risk that public confidence in the administration of justice would be undermined”. Mr. Jolovan Wham’s sentencing hearing was first set for November 7, 2018 and postponed several times. Article 3 (1) (a) of the Administration of Justice (Protection) Act provides for up to three years in jail or a fine of S$100,000 (around 62,740 Euros), or both.
This was the first conviction for “scandalising the court” under the 2016 Administration of Justice (Protection) Act, which came into effect on October 1, 2017. This crime is defined as “Any person who scandalises the court by intentionally publishing any matter or doing any act that —(i) imputes improper motives to or impugns the integrity, propriety or impartiality of any court; and (ii) poses a risk that public confidence in the administration of justice would be undermined”.
During a hearing on March 21, 2019, the Prosecutor asked the High Court to sentence Mr. Jolovan Wham to a fine of between S$10,000 (around 6,580 Euros) and S$15,000 (around 9,870 Euros).
On April 29, 2019, the Singapore High Court imposed on Mr. Jolovan Wham a fine of S$5,000 (around 3,290 Euros) following his conviction on charges of scandalising the court. Mr. Jolovan Wham was also required to pay S$5,000 in legal expenses to the Prosecutor and S$2997.82 (around 1,973 Euros) in disbursements to the Attorney’s General Chambers. Mr. Wham appealed the sentence.
- Impact of Event
- Gender of HRD
- Denial Fair Trial
- Judicial Harassment
- Rights Concerned
- Right to fair trial
- Pro-democracy activist
- Event Location
- Summary for Publications
On 16 March 2020, Jolovan Wham, pro-democracy activist, was sentenced in appeal to a fine for having questioned the independence of the judiciary in a social media platform by the Singapore’s Court of Appeal in Singapore.