UN agency calls for Amos Yee's immediate release

Amos Yee arriving at the State Courts on June 2, 2015.
Amos Yee arriving at the State Courts on June 2, 2015. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

UPDATE: Teenage blogger Amos Yee's parents arrive in court for son's reformative training report

THE United Nations Human Rights Office for South-east Asia yesterday called for the immediate release of teenage blogger Amos Yee, who has been remanded at Changi Prison since June 2.

In a statement, the Bangkok-based Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) urged the Government to review the 16-year-old's conviction and asked that prosecutors also drop their demand that Yee be sentenced to a stint at the Reformative Training Centre (RTC).

Yee was found guilty on May 12 of uploading an obscene image and making remarks intending to hurt the feelings of Christians in a video.

The prosecution asked the court at that time to consider probation for Yee.

But at an urgent closed-door hearing on May 27, the court heard that Yee refused to go for any interviews with his assigned probation officer, and that he again made public the video and obscene image that landed him in trouble in the first place.

On June 2, he was remanded for three weeks after District Judge Jasvender Kaur called for a report to assess if he is suitable for reformative training.

This is a rehabilitative sentencing option for young offenders aged under 21 who are found unsuitable for probation.

A stint lasts between 18 and 30 months.

Offenders will not have contact with adult inmates. But, unlike probation, a stint at RTC will leave them with a criminal record.

Yee is due in court today, where he may learn of his sentence.

The OHCHR said yesterday it was aware that Yee was being assessed for reformative training. But it expressed concern that the RTC is "akin to detention and usually applied to juvenile offenders involved in serious crimes".

The UN agency said it recognised Singapore's concerns about issues of public morality and social harmony. However, it did not think that reformative training was an appropriate sentence for Yee.

The OHCHR also appealed to the authorities to "give special consideration to his juvenile status".

asyiqins@sph.com.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2015, with the headline 'UN agency calls for Amos Yee's immediate release'. Print Edition | Subscribe