A Singapore court sentenced 17-year-old blogger Amos Yee to six weeks in jail on Thursday for “wounding religious feelings”, the second jail term for the teenager who was convicted on similar charges last year. Yee pleaded guilty to six charges of deliberately posting comments on the internet critical of Christianity and Islam.
His case has reignited concerns about censorship and social controls in the Asian financial hub and drew criticism from human rights organisations. Judge Ong Hian Sun told the district court that Yee’s actions could “generate social unrest” and should not be condoned. There was no immediate comment from Yee or his legal representatives.
Yee was convicted on charges of harassment and insulting a religious group last year for comments he made about former premier Lee Kuan Yew and Christians soon after Lee’s death. His sentence then amounted to four weeks in jail he had already served. His latest month-long trial was attended by officials of the UN Human Rights Council and the European Union, and was also closely watched by rights groups.
“By prosecuting Amos Yee for his comments, no matter how outrageous they may have been, Singapore has unfortunately doubled down on a strategy that clearly violates freedom of expression,” Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Right Watch’s Asia division, said in an email. “For a country that prides itself on efficiency, Singapore should re-examine its approach, because every time the authorities go after him, it just adds to his online audience who are interested to find out the latest thing,” he said.