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UN Expert Condemns Jailing of Teen Blogger in Singapore

Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression David Kaye. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression David Kaye. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

After a Singaporean teenage blogger was sentenced to jail for his social media posts, a United Nations (UN) human rights expert warned Tuesday that it is “exactly the wrong kind of message that any government should be sending to anybody, but especially to young people.”

“The criminalization 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,” David Kaye, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, said in a news release.

This came following the 29 September sentencing by a Singapore court 17-year-old blogger Amos Yee to six weeks imprisonment for his Facebook posts and blogposts ‘wounding religious feelings of Muslims and Christians.’

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The trial of the teen blogger is one of several cases in Singapore that indicate a broadening crackdown on controversial expression, as well as political criticism and dissent, Mr. Kaye noted in an statement.

“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.

Mr. Kaye further stressed 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.

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