The Human Rights Watch has releases a statement slamming the Singapore Government on the imprisonment of Jolovan Wham which started yesterday. He was jailed for being guilty of the charge of scandalizing the judiciary. They even referred to the law offence used by Singapore as being archaic, even pointing out that countries such as New Zealand, Canada and Brunei have ceased using the law. The Human Rights Watch went even as far as stating that the Singapore Government is so afraid of facing up to the truths that they turn to this law to silence their critics.
In a strongly worded statement, the Human Rights Watch said:
“The imprisonment of Jolovan Wham is a complete travesty of justice perpetrated by Singapore to silence one of the country’s most fearless defenders of civil liberties and human rights. Jolovan did nothing wrong and Singapore is blatantly violating his human rights by imprisoning him. Jolovan should never have been arrested, much less persecuted, on these absurd charges of supposedly giving offense given to the Singapore judiciary.
That Singapore holds dear its rights abusing charge of ‘scandalizing the judiciary’ raises fundamental questions about what the government is really so afraid of that they must gag anyone who dares express critical opinions about the courts. Every time Singapore imprisons a critic using this law, the country’s modern image gets another black mark. Singapore should immediately quash Jolovan Wham’s conviction and revoke the ‘scandalizing the judiciary’ statute once and for all.
‘Scandalizing the judiciary’ is a common law offense dating from Singapore’s British colonial past and is inconsistent with free speech rights. The fact that the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth states, including New Zealand, Canada, and Brunei Darussalam, have long since ceased to prosecute this contempt charge shows how truly out of step Singapore is in this matter.”