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):

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