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Bertha HarianBertha Harian

News Reports

A hassle to read about harrassment

This is about a strange story in ST about a doctor whose online video captions sparked a harassment case. It’s a strange story because the court made it clear that no one can re-publish the captions, so you really don’t know what was offensive about them. That’s understandable because you don’t repeat remarks that the court has deemed offensive, much like the case in defamation suits. But in this case, you also don’t know what the original altercation between the doctor and a Frenchman at a petrol station was all about.

Anyway, here’s the gist. Something happened between the doctor and the Frenchman at the petrol station. There was some gesticulation and what seemed to be an exchange of words. Somehow the doctor got hold of the video off the petrol station CCTV (so easy to get ah?) and made a Magistrate’s complaint against the Frenchman. The court said: No case. And, I am assuming here, the doctor got fed up and uploaded the video and put in the captions. It was the Frenchman’s turn to go to the courts to get the captions taken offline. Court said: Okay.

All that is very interesting but was even more interesting is this phrase: “This is believed to be the first time that a court has issued an expedited protection order (EPO) under the Protection from Harassment Act, landmark legislation passed last year which, among other things, seeks to curb online harassment.’’

“Unlike a protection order, an EPO is issued on a temporary basis to prevent further alleged harassment until a case is settled.’’

So the legislation is already in force? And why “believed’’? Is this the first time an “expedited’’ order is granted as against a plain vanilla ordinary order, or also the first time the new law was being used? No way this can be verified by any authority?

It’s frustrating.

What is more perplexing is the later part of the story which said that since the new Act came into force last Nov 15 till Jan 7 this year, there have been 79 Magistrate’s Complaints for harassment and 13 applications for Protection Orders.

Three Protection Orders have been issued by the State Courts, and the remainder of the cases are ongoing, according to a spokesman for the courts.

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So interesting! So, people have already been apply for protection under the new laws which will curb stalking as well as stop harassing remarks from going viral. And we didn’t know about this! What were the three Protection Orders about? The media missed the story and only caught up with an “expedited” order?

Then while trawling for more information just now, I came across this story in TODAYOnline reporting an announcement from the Law ministry today that  “Victims of harassment can now apply straight to the Singapore Court for a Protection Order, which will direct the harasser to stop the behaviour and put a stop to the spread of harassing communication by others who re-publish the communication.’’

There was nothing in the story to say when the law came into effect and what has happened since then. An announcement? So are we talking about the same laws here?

FYI, failure to obey the court’s order could result in a contempt of court action or a Protection of Harassment Act offence which carries a fine of up to $5,000 and/or a jail term of up to six months.

I seriously wish the media would give a clearer picture…..

Written By

An ex-journalist who can't get enough of the news after being in the business for 26 years

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