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Singapore: “Sentencing a teenage blogger to jail sends wrong message to young people” – UN expert warns

GENEVA (4 October 2016) – “The lesson that somebody can be thrown in jail for their speech is exactly the wrong kind of message that any government should be sending to anybody, but especially to young people,” today said the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye.

“The criminalisation of a broad range of legitimate, even if offensive forms of expression is not the right tool for any State to pursue legitimate aims such as tolerance and the rights of others,” the expert said following the 29 September sentencing by a Singapore court teenage blogger Amos Yee to six weeks imprisonment for ‘wounding religious feelings’.

In statement issued in August, Mr. Kaye noted that the international human rights law allows only serious and extreme instances of incitement to hatred to be prohibited as criminal offences, not other forms of expression, even if they are offensive, disturbing or shocking.

“Threats of criminal action and lawsuits contribute to a culture of self-censorship, and hinder the development of an open and pluralistic environment where all forms of ideas and opinions should be debated and rebutted openly,” the Special Rapporteur highlighted.

(*) See the Special Rapporteur’s statement (15 August 2016): http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=20377&LangID=E

Mr. David Kaye (USA) was appointed as Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in August 2014 by the United Nations Human Rights Council. As Special Rapporteur, Mr. Kaye is part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/FreedomOpinion/Pages/OpinionIndex.aspx

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Singapore: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/SGIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests please contact Ms. Azin Tadjdini (+41 22 917 9400 / atadjdini@ohchr.org) or write to freedex@ohchr.org.

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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