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(中/英文版)人权观察组织:必须拒绝涵盖范围广泛的司法(保护)法令 HRW: Singapore should reject overly broad contempt law

人权观察组织:必须拒绝涵盖范围广泛的司法(保护)法令:

过分的刑罚和含糊的法律释义将会导致自我检查。

人权观察组织

网址:http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/blog/2016/08/09/hrw-singapore-should-reject-overly-broad-contempt-law/

相关链接网址:

1. 张素兰: 维护我们的司法制度 Protecting Our Judiciary Bill by Teo Soh Lung

https://wangruirong.wordpress.com/2016/08/04/

2.  公众人士递交请愿书要求国会暂缓通过拟议中的《司法(保护)法令》

https://wangruirong.wordpress.com/2016/08/11/

3.   (中/英文版)国际保护记者委员会:藐视法庭法案法律威胁新加坡的新闻自由 Proposed law on contempt of court threatens press freedom in Singapore

   https://wangruirong.wordpress.com/2016/08/09/

4.《早报》:什么构成“藐视法庭”?http://www.zaobao.com.sg/special/zbo/others/story20160711-639940

5. 妇女行动与研究协会(AWARE)深切关注《司法(保护)法令》(Administration  of Justice (Protection) Bill)对于自由表达的影响

      https://wangruirong.wordpress.com/2016/08/12/

6. 联合国第34号一般性意见:见解自由和言论自由(《公约》第十九条)

https://wangruirong.wordpress.com/2016/08/13/

维护司法言论自由

201689日曼谷讯)

国际人权观察组织今天指出,新加坡国会Singapore应该建议重新审核拟议中的心法案——《司法(保护)法令》(Administration of Justice (Protection) Act )作为更好的保护表达自由。这是符合国际法和新加坡的宪法的要求的。这部草拟的法案是在20167月递交给国会的。它将于2016815日在国会二读通过。这部法律更广泛的释义有关藐视法庭的行为的定义。

国际人权观察组织亚洲区域副总监菲尔·罗伯Phil Robertson)指出,

“根据拟议中的法案,它今后可以成为政府任意镇压与对付新加坡批评者的手中工具。人们应该拥有表达自己的观点的自由。他们不应该在恐惧,或者被监禁,或者遭起诉后支付高额赔偿而导致破产的情况下。”

国际人权观察组织说,这部法案包括了广泛的限制自由表达行为。特别是,法案将引用了古老的诽谤法院罪”。它禁止的不仅仅是干扰法庭的程序,而是批评法庭或者司法行政一般的情况。只要是报导在审讯中的案件,被认定为可能对审讯产生偏见的“危险”的。这种“危险”即便是具有专业和预见独立的见解。拟议中的法案应该修订缩小其释义的行为范围,以及降低与实际情况不符合的惩罚刑罚。

法案列明了触犯有关各种藐视法庭的处罚是:最高罚款额10万新元和三年监禁,这包括了古老的“诽谤法院罪”。犹有甚者,藐视法庭是一项属于“可以被逮捕的”刑罚。这就是说,这些涉嫌藐视法院者将会面对无需搜查与逮捕令(warrantless searches and arrests)。

国际人权观察组织说,古老的“诽谤法庭”是一条普通刑法,它是从英国统治新加坡的殖民地时代就制定的。这部法令与言论自由是互相矛盾的。联合国和其他英共和联邦国家,包括了纽西兰、加拿大和文莱已经在很久以前停止使用这样的藐视法令了。

国际人权观察组织说,在这部法案下,触犯古老的“诽谤法庭”的刑罚包括了肆意刊载任何被视为是对法院具有不正当动机的,或者,质疑法院对案件的完整性,或者,对在进行审讯中的任何案件带来了真正的风险的偏见”。而伴随着该法案注释的所谓“友善的批评”(这是没有清晰释义的地方),必须是豁免的。这不是一个可以接受的辩护的。因为这个人并没有任何意图藐视法院。这部法案对犯罪的释义是模糊的。它包含了潜在性的骚扰处罚,这样的处罚将会造成许多人产生自我检查,以免面对被起诉的危险,从而大大地减少了人们在新加坡进行公开地讨论司法行政问题。

2015年,博客和社社会活动活跃分子欧如鹏被判处“诽谤法院”的罪名成立。(Alex Au was found guilty of “scandalizing the court”他是在发表了有关两项挑战宪法上涉及鸡奸案件事件安排上的评论。欧如鹏注意到高等法庭对第一宗案件的判决曾被拖延,而推测其中理由也许是因为只有如此,才有办法使到那位在第一宗案件立案时担任总检察长的首席法官能够听审此案。法院认为,他的文章观点是属于法官职责的一部分,因此他被判处罚款8千新元(合折美金5,935元)。

2013年,漫画家莱斯.周Leslie Chew was charged with “scandalizing the court”在脸书(FB)《Demon-cratic Singapore》网页上载了四张具有讽刺性的漫画。他在“藐视法院”法令下被起诉。这些漫画讽刺法院的判决有利于名人,不利于国民服役人员。这是有偏向外国人的。他在同样的罪名下被判以不同的刑罚和加入政府反对一名反对党人。他的刑罚被撤销是在他同意从网页上删除那四张漫画和做出公开的道歉。

作家亚伦·沙德瑞(Alan Shadrake)在自己出版的书籍:《一旦成了愉快的刽子手》(Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock)》里,提出新加坡政府对贩毒犯罪实施强制性的死刑经常是不平等适用的。他因此被判处坐牢6个月(Alan Shadrake was sentenced to six weeks in prison)和罚款2万元新币(合折美金14,840元)。

国际人权宣言第19条约定,习惯性反思法是保护自由表达的。国际准则只允许基于限制表达内容极端的狭窄的情况下,诸如威胁国家安全或者公共秩序。这些限制必须是提供法律依据、严格释法,同时必须要要有相称的利益保护的。

联合国人权委员会在34号一般性意见:

见解自由和言论自由(《公约》第十九条关于表达言论自由的权利已经明确的阐明,“事实上,这种形式的表达被认为是侮辱公众人士是不足以证明实刑罚的。”(“the mere fact that forms of expression are considered to be insulting to a public figure is not sufficient to justify the imposition of penalties.”)(见网址:《第34号一般性意见:见解自由和言论自由(《公约》第十九条)》http://ww.humanrights.cn/html/2014/2_1009/1921.html)人权委员会在监督会员国在履行《公民权利和政治权利国际公约》的情况。新加坡没有参与这个公约。其他的国际组织包括了泛美人权委员Inter-American Commission on Human Rights在内,关于释义表达自由同样拥有公众批当局的不受欢迎法律惩罚

《司法(保护)法令》的广泛禁止讨论在法院审讯中的案件也是一个问题。当禁止人们谈论审讯中的案件,将会导致损害公正审判的实质性风险。这是国际法所不允许的。他们必须尽可能地收缩有关干扰善意报导的释义范围。特别是它应该认识到一名专业的法官可能一般上会忽略,或者,抗拒法院外不正当的评论的影响。

与此同时,在这部拟议中法令下,公民将被禁止讨论任何在审讯中的案件。它特别强调允许政府做出认定。他们认为是“适合公共的利益的”。这样的认定不论它是否可能会影响正在进行的程序和推是无辜的

最后,这部法令赋予了总检察长权利在不需要向法院申请庭令下,可以拿走他认为是属于潜在着具有影响性的“藐视”物件。 事实上,这部法令要求作家,或者个人将被移除“不存在”的东西。如果政府要它成为证据的情况下,法院“必须”允许这样的请求。这是总检察长向法院提出要拿走的物件是在藐视法律的广泛定义。任何人如果拒绝服从这项庭令,将会被判处12个监禁、或者2万新元(合折美金14,480)的罚款、或者,两者兼施。

国际人权观察组织亚洲区域副总监菲尔·罗伯Phil Robertson)指出,

“拟议中的法律草案是一部片面性的法律。他将有效地堵住新加坡的公众讨论任何涉及法院和法官的课题。它再一次的显示了新加坡政府将依据从安全方面的意愿去限制对表达自由和保护其司法系统。

 

 

HRW: Singapore should reject overly broad contempt law

Excessive Penalties and Vague Terms Will Lead to Self-Censorship

人权观察组织

网址:http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/blog/2016/08/09/hrw-singapore-should-reject-overly-broad-contempt-law/

Related link:

1.https://cpj.org/2016/08/proposed-law-on-contempt-of-court-threatens-press-.php

2. Protecting Our Judiciary Bill by Teo Soh Lung

https://wangruirong.wordpress.com/2016/08/04/

3.Proposed law on contempt of court threatens press freedom in Singapore

   https://wangruirong.wordpress.com/2016/08/09/

4.Public petition submitted to Parliament asking for proposed bill to be delayed

 https://wangruirong.wordpress.com/2016/08/11/

5.AWARE express concerns about proposed bill’s implications for free expression

https://wangruirong.wordpress.com/2016/08/12/

6. General Comment No. 34 on the right to freedom of expression

https://wangruirong.wordpress.com/2016/08/13/

维护司法言论自由

(Bangkok, 9 August 2016) – The Singapore parliament should recommend a review of the proposed new Administration of Justice (Protection) Act to better protect freedom of expression, as required by international law and the Singapore Constitution, Human Rights Watch said today. The draft legislation, which was tabled in July and will have its second reading in parliament on August 15, 2016, broadly defines the conduct that can be penalized as contempt of court.

 “As drafted, this bill could easily become the next handy tool for the government to suppress critical speech in Singapore,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “People should be free to express their views of the justice system without fear of being imprisoned or bankrupted by onerous fines.”

The draft act includes broad restrictions on freedom of expression. In particular, the bill codifies the archaic offense of “scandalizing the court,” which prohibits not just disrupting judicial proceedings but criticizing the court or judicial administration generally, as well as reporting on ongoing cases if it could “risk” prejudicing the trial, even if a professional and presumably independent judge presides. The proposed law should be revised to narrow its scope and reduce disproportionate penalties, Human Rights Watch said.

The draft law provides penalties of up to S$100,000 and three years in prison for several forms of contempt of court, including the archaic offense of “scandalising the court.” Moreover, contempt is made an “arrestable” offense, meaning that those suspected of contempt can be subjected to warrantless searches and arrests.

 “Scandalizing the court” is a common law offense dating from Singapore’s British colonial past that contradicts the right to free speech, Human Rights Watch said. The United Kingdom and several other Commonwealth states, including New Zealand, Canada, and Brunei Darussalam, have long since ceased to prosecute this type of contempt charge.

Under the draft bill, the “scandalizing the court” offense includes intentionally publishing anything that imputes improper motives to the court or impugns its integrity, or “poses a real risk of prejudice” to any pending case. While the accompanying legislative notes to the bill state that “fair criticism” (which is left undefined) is meant to be exempted, it will be not be an acceptable defense to contend that one didn’t intend to scandalize the court. The vagueness of the offense, combined with the harshness of the potential penalty, will likely cause many persons to self-censor rather than risk prosecution, thereby significantly curtailing open discussion of the administration of justice in Singapore, Human Rights Watch said.

In 2015, blogger and activist Alex Au was found guilty of “scandalizing the court” in a blog post commenting on the scheduling of two constitutional challenges to Singapore’s sodomy law. Au noted that the High Court ruling in the first case had been delayed and speculated that the reason might be so that the new chief justice, who had been the attorney general at the time the first case was filed, could sit on the bench hearing the challenge. The court found that his post suggested that the chief justice was partial, and he was convicted and fined S$8,000 (US$5,935).

In 2013, cartoonist Leslie Chew was charged with “scandalizing the court” in four satirical cartoons posted on his Facebook page “Demon-cratic Singapore.” The cartoons satirized court decisions for allegedly favoring foreigners, ruling for a celebrity and against a serviceman, imposing disparate sentences for the same offense, and joining a government vendetta against an opposition politician. Charges were dropped only after Chew agreed to delete the four cartoons and publicly apologize.

Author Alan Shadrake was sentenced to six weeks in prison and a S$20,000 fine (US$14,840) in 2010, for “scandalizing the court” in his book Once a Jolly Hangman, which suggested that Singapore’s mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking offenses is not always equitably applied.

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is broadly recognized as reflective of customary law, protects the right to freedom of expression. International standards only allow content-based restrictions on expression in extremely narrow circumstances, such as threats to national security or public order. Restrictions must be provided by law, strictly construed, and necessary and proportionate to the interest protected.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee, in its General Comment No. 34 on the right to freedom of expression, states that “the mere fact that forms of expression are considered to be insulting to a public figure is not sufficient to justify the imposition of penalties.” The Human Rights Committee monitors the compliance of states parties to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Singapore has not joined. Other international bodies interpreting freedom of expression, including the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, have also disfavored laws that penalize criticism of public authorities.

The Administration of Justice (Protection) Act’s broad restrictions on discussion of ongoing court matters are also problematic. While restrictions on speech that poses a substantial risk of prejudice to a fair trial are permissible under international law, they should be narrowly drawn to interfere with good faith reporting as little as possible. In particular, it should be presumed that a professional judge is generally capable of ignoring or resisting improper influence from commentary outside the courtroom.

In addition, under the draft law, while citizens will be prohibited from discussing ongoing proceedings under the proposed new law, it specifically permits the government to comment whenever it feels it “is necessary in the public interest,” regardless of whether doing so could prejudice the ongoing proceedings and the presumption of innocence.

Finally, the proposed law gives the attorney general the power to seek a court order requiring the removal of potentially “contemptuous” material without giving notice of his application to those most affected. In fact, the law requires that the application be heard “without the presence” of the author or the person who will be ordered to take down the material. The court “must” grant the order if the government makes a prima facie case that the material falls within the law’s broad definition of contempt. Failure to comply with the order can result in a sentence of 12 months in prison, a S$20,000 (US$14,480) fine, or both.

“This proposed legislation is a one-sided law that as drafted will effectively gag any discussion of courts and justice in Singapore, so the government should send it back to the drawing board,” said Robertson. “It demonstrates, once again, just how far Singapore is willing to go to restrict freedom of expression and shield its justice system from scrutiny.”