Freelance journalist and anti-penalty activist issued conditional warning over Facebook post


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SINGAPORE — Freelance journalist and anti-penalty activist, Kirsten Han was issued with a 12-month conditional warning from the Singapore Police for a Facebook post that she published on 10 May this year.

Ms Han was issued with the conditional warning after turning up at the Ang Mo Kio Police Division Headquarters. She was told to turn up at 11 am for an appointment by the chief investigation officer looking into an alleged offence of Contempt of Court in relation to the 10 May Facebook post.

She had previously posted about the Police’s letters to her and how she questioned the procedures and whether was there a police investigation against her.

Ms Han, in her latest Facebook post, said she is now clear that there was no investigation against her and stated that she does not believe there was ever one on the matter which the Police had recently contacted her for.

The conditional letter that was presented to her, states that the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) has decided that her 10 May Facebook post “amounts to contempt of court”, and that they have told the police to issue her with a 12-month conditional warning.

The letter also warns Ms Han that if she were to commit any offence within the 12-month period, the alleged offence of Contempt of Court may be commenced against her as well.

Ms Han said that she had tried to ask which parts of her 10 May Facebook post scandalised the judiciary under s 3(1)(a) of the Administration of Justice (Protection) Act. But she was unsuccessful in getting an answer from the police officer.

She deduced from various aspects of the matter that her actual posting – not Mr M Ravi’s post which she shared – was the basis for the offence.

Ms Han in her latest Facebook post, says:

“I am interpreting this as harassment and intimidation from the Attorney-General’s Chambers, using the Singapore Police Force as their messenger to do so. I find it very unfair that the AGC has simply decided that my five-month-old Facebook post is in contempt of court, and aren’t even articulating *why* it is in contempt of court, but just issuing me a conditional warning out of the blue. I don’t know how this post came to their attention, nor do I know what the process was for deciding that it amounts to contempt of court. I see this as an attempt to scare me into laying low for the next 12 months, by letting me know that even what I write on social media is potentially being scrutinised by state prosecutors.”

It is interesting to note that the police report number listed on the top of the conditional warning is serialised as F/20221018/2089. This would suggest that the police report which the conditional warning is based on, is only filed on 18 October this year. At the same time, Ms Han had already been contacted by the Police on 11 October to turn up for an appointment.

Series of investigations launched upon Ms Han

Earlier on 24 June this year, Ms Han was called for an interview by the Police at the Bedok Police Station for allegedly participating in two ‘illegal assemblies’ outside Changi Prison earlier this year. One on the night before the execution of Abdul Kahar bin Othman, and another, where Ms Han and others took photos with the sign “END OPPRESSION, NOT LIFE”’ two nights before Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam was hanged.

Ms Han and Rocky Howe — a fellow member of Transformative Justice Collective (TJC) who was also being investigated, went to the police station wearing T-shirts bearing anti-death penalty slogans.

During the interrogation, police officers took issue with the T-shirts that they were wearing. Specifically, the police officers claimed that by walking from the nearby market to the police station in those T-shirts, they had participated in an ‘illegal procession’.

The T-shirts that they were wearing were then confiscated on the spot. Teo Soh Lung, their friend and fellow activist, who was at the waiting area of the police station had to hastily purchase other T-shirts for them to wear instead. Subsequently, the Police confirmed to local media that AGC, having reviewed the facts, has advised that Han and Howe did not commit any offences, by reason of the T-shirts they wore when they went for the police interview,”

On top of seizing their mobile phones, the police also asked Han for her social media passwords, which she refused to give them. Han said when she refused, she was warned that Section 39 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) “might come into play”.

Under Section 39 of the CPC, police officers have the power to access, inspect and check the operation of a “computer” used in connection with an arrestable offence. As such, Ms Han had no choice but to comply with the Police’s orders.

TOC understands that no update on the investigations has been provided to the two after the interview on 24 June was carried out.

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