Singapore: Teenage Blogger Ordered to Mental Health Institute
In response to a Singapore court ruling that a 16-year-old blogger, Amos Yee, arrested for posting a video about the late Prime Minster Lee Kuan Yew, be held for two weeks for psychiatric review, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“This court ruling is a threat to freedom of expression in Singapore and also violates the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Singapore ratified in 1995,” said Daniel Calingaert, executive vice president. “Singapore is criminalizing online expression.”
On March 27, Amos Yee uploaded a video called “Lee Kuan Yew is dead” on YouTube, four days after the Prime Minister’s death. On March 31, Yee was charged with violating Section 298 of the Penal Code for “wound[ing] the religious or racial feelings of any person” and Section 291(1)(a) for distributing obscene materials. A court granted him bail but also issued an order prohibiting him from posting any content online until resolution of his case. Yee intentionally violated the order by posting Facebook updates and writing two blog entries, one of them headlined, “The Ridiculous Terms of My Bail.” He was subsequently jailed.
Yee has been transferred to the Institute of Mental Health, where psychiatrists are to assess whether he should receive 18 months of mandatory reformative training. A judge will decide Yee’s sentence, a maximum of three years in prison, at a hearing scheduled for July 6.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.