Friday, 14 March 2014

Singapore Enacts New Harassment Law

Anti-harassment laws to fight ‘social scourge’


MPs give unanimous support as they share accounts of abuse and harassment from victims

Proposed anti-harassment laws were passed yesterday with unanimous support from Members of Parliament (MPs), many of whom recounted stories of people they know getting harassed and public servants suffering abuse at work.

The new laws will seek to protect the public at large against what some had described as a “social scourge”, as Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam put it. Noting widespread public opinion that harassment is unacceptable and that the law must deal firmly with harassers, he said proposed criminal and civil measures laid out in the Protection from Harassment Act address the real need to better protect victims of harassment.

Standards of acceptable behaviour should be the same in the physical world and in the online sphere, he said.



Legal redress for harassment victims to be easy, inexpensive

THE new law against harassment has been crafted specially to make it quick, easy and inexpensive for victims to seek legal redress, Law Minister K. Shanmugam told Parliament on Thursday. Victims, for instance, should not need to engage lawyers to get protection orders to make the harassment stop.

Police officers will also be trained on the application of the law, which Parliament passed yesterday. That includes how to assess and investigate cases and breaches of protection orders.

The minister was replying to MPs' concerns that the law, while strong on paper, will be difficult to enforce.

related:


NUS DEAN WALTER WOON: ONLY LIARS NEED TO BE AFRAID OF THE NEW HARASSMENT BILL

Detractors will immediately protest that internet freedom of speech is under threat.  They are right, but for the wrong reasons.  Freedom of speech is under threat when people abuse it to deliberately spread falsehoods or to form virtual lynch mobs to attack those whose views they do not like.  Yesterday it was Anton Casey, whom many will say deserved it.  Tomorrow who will the ravening pack decide to tear apart?

Political correctness in some countries has reached a point where if anyone has a contrary view on certain red-button issues (which vary from country to country) they are shouted down by howling online mobs.  If you don’t believe me, just try praising the Black and White Minstrel Show on YouTube.

Coming back to section 15, let’s start with the premise that it is not a human right to tell lies about someone else (of course, if you think that telling lies is a fundamental right, then we have an irreconcilable difference of views).  If one person deliberately tells lies about another in order to hurt them, it would be unjust if the victim had to accept this without remedy.  For example, say that D and V are competing for the same job.  D deliberately spreads the story that V was convicted abroad for criminal breach of trust in order to ruin his chances. Or suppose that D is a spurned lover and in revenge spreads rumours that V has been sleeping around with several other men. Would any reasonable person accept that D is merely exercising his right of free speech and that V should not be allowed to do anything about it?


Anti-harassment law to clamp down on cyber bullying in Singapore


Yahoo Newsroom - Law Minister K Shanmugam will propose a new harassment law in Parliament next Monday

proposed anti-harassment law to be tabled in Parliament next week will criminalize harassment, both in the physical as well as online world. It will also provide a wider range of protection for harassment victims, and more severe punishment for offenders.

The proposed Bill will cover a broad range of behaviour such as stalking, bullying of children, sexual harassment within and outside the workplace as well as cyber-bullying.

Victims may apply for civil remedies such as a Protection Order from the court so that harassers will desist from doing anything that will cause further harm. Where appropriate, victims can also ask the court to order the removal of offensive material online. The court can “direct suitable notification” to alert readers of the false facts.


Proposed anti-harassment law only a temporary fix: Voices

The proposed anti-harassment law that was introduced in Parliament yesterday to curb cyber-bullying and other extreme misbehaviour on the Internet is an exercise in futility.

Practically speaking, it would be nearly impossible for the authorities to trace sources and identify and apprehend anonymous individuals who have broken the law.

Consequently, the supposed deterrent effect will lose its impact, especially when a derogatory post goes viral on social media channels. Even if the perpetrators were eventually nabbed, the damage would have been done.


MINISTRY OF LAW EXPLAINS MORE ABOUT THE NEW ANTI-HARASSMENT BILL


Law Minister K Shanmugam introduced a new Bill in Parliament today aimed at regulating harassment both online and offline.

The new anti-harassment bill called the "Protection from Harassment" Bill introduces new penalties for existing harassment offenses and also creates new offenses to deal with issues such as cyber bullying, harassment of children, and stalking.

If passed through parliament, the Bill will become a new law in Singapore. Here is what the Law Ministry wrote to explain some of the major changes proposed in the Bill (The fact sheet on the new bill is also available here.)


Wide-ranging law to tackle harassment proposed



A wide-ranging law that will give victims of harassment civil remedies and issue offenders with various criminal sanctions will be tabled in Parliament on Monday — three months after it was mooted and views from the public were sought.

The move was first flagged by Law Minister K Shanmugam during a conference on harassment organised by the Institute of Policy Studies in November last year, when he cited a worldwide study by Microsoft in 2012 that showed Singapore to be one of six countries where bullying among youth aged eight to 17 was particularly pervasive.

He also cited a poll of Singaporeans aged above 15, where eight in 10 felt that online harassment was a serious issue, with almost 90 per cent calling for offenders to be punished under the law.



New harassment law could be enacted soon in S'pore

A new legislation will soon be in place to give better protection to victims of cyber-bullying and stalking.

The Protection from Harassment Bill, to be tabled in Parliament on Monday, will make harassment an offence - both in the physical and online world. 30-year-old "Mary" was a victim of cyber-stalking two years ago.

For two weeks, she was inundated with emails, Facebook messages, and even nasty calls and SMSes from a so-called "admirer".


Singapore Poised To Enact New Harassment Law

A new law could soon be enacted in Singapore to better protect the public from harassment, Xinhua news agency reported local media as saying.

Law Minister K Shanmugam will introduce the Protection from Harassment Bill in Parliament on March 3, TV Channel NewsAsia said.

The proposed new law will cover a range of behaviours including sexual harassment within and outside the workplace, cyber bullying and bullying of children.

read more

New Protection from Harassment Bill to be introduced in Parliament

If you are a bully, a stalker or a harasser, watch out.

A new Protection from Harassment Bill will be introduced in Parliament on Monday to protect victims of harassment.

A spate of harassment and stalking cases prompted the Law Ministry to begin drafting the bill 12 months ago, said its permanent secretary, Dr Beh Swan Gin.

read more

New anti-harassment law to cover both physical and online activities

The Ministry of Law announced yesterday that a new Protection from Harassment Bill will be read in Parliament on 3 March, next Monday, which aims to legislate harassment, be it in physical or online form, as an offence.

If implemented, the new laws will provide a range of self-help measures, civil remedies and criminal sanctions to better protect people from harassment and related anti-social behaviour.

Activities including cyber harassment, bullying of children, sexual harassment within and outside the workplace, and stalking will be covered under the Bill. Victims of such activities will be able to seek redress through the Courts.

read more

New law proposed to cover online bullying

Singapore is proposing a new law that will cover online bullying. The new Protection from Harassment Bill was introduced in Parliament yesterday.

The new Bill will consolidate existing anti-harassment legislation and expand it to cover online behaviour.

The proposed law makes stalking an offence, with a maximum penalty of a fine up to S$5,000 (RM12,917) and/or imprisonment for up to a year.

read more

Government seeks to throw the book at harassers, stalkers

Months after the Government signalled its intention to throw the book at perpetrators of harassment, it laid bare how serious it was about stamping out such behaviour, in a new statute tabled yesterday.

Not only will punishments for existing harassment-related offences be stepped up under the proposed wide-ranging omnibus legislation, it also introduces provisions to hit recalcitrant offenders more severely. Where the offending act is committed will also be irrelevant — as long as the perpetrator ought to know the victim would be in Singapore, he will be culpable.

Notably, the Protection from Harassment Act plugs two existing gaps: Harassment in the online sphere will be covered; and stalking, for the first time, has been defined.

read more

Stalkers never go away, but anti-harassment law can make them stay away


There are no words to express how pleased I am that the Government is finally taking action against stalkers in a new piece of legislation tabled in Parliament on Monday. The proposed "Protection From Harassment Bill 2014" is set to tackle online harassment, cyber-bullying, sexual harassment in the workplace - and stalking.
Three months ago, when Law Minister K. Shanmugam announced that the Government was to look into hiving off harassment from its current cursory inclusion in the Miscellaneous Offences Act into a separate piece of legislation, I wasn't so sure stalking would be taken seriously. For the last few years, with more people getting comfortable in their cloaks of Internet anonymity, online harassment and cyber-bullying have understandably received much attention. Similarly, women's rights group Aware has been lobbying the Government for a few years now to strengthen laws governing sexual harassment at the workplace.
But stalking? Who represents these silent sufferers in society? The answer is no one. Largely because victims of stalkers have no idea how to deal with their situations so there are few cases that make it to court. Many a time, victims can't get the help or advice they need from the relevant authorities. And most importantly, victims of prolonged stalking are often so traumatised by their ordeal, they retreat rather than face their tormentors head-on.


read more

Labour movement welcomes anti-harassment Bill


The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) has welcomed the Protection from Harassment Bill, which was tabled in Parliament on Monday by Senior Minister of State for Law Indranee Rajah.
The Bill seeks to provide a range of self-help measures, civil remedies and criminal sanctions to better protect people from harassment, distress and related anti-social behaviour.
The labour movement said it is heartened that this protection will also be extended to "workers who deliver public service".
read more

Stalking now an offence under new anti-harassment bill

A fine up to S$5,000, a jail term not exceeding 12 months or both may await those who engage in stalking, under a proposed legislation that seeks to make the behaviour a new offence under the law, Parliament heard today (March 3).
Stalking was among the offences included in the Protection from Harassment Act 2014, which was tabled in Parliament this afternoon. Other offences laid out in the Bill are harassment, causing alarm or distress, fear or provocation of violence, and threatening, abusing or insulting a public servant or public service worker.
These offences, which are currently covered under the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act, will see heftier penalties.
read more

Protection from Harassment Bill, all the good intentions

The anti-stalking and harassment Bill looks so innocent and angelic that the victims of such acts would be all too glad to receive it with open arms. And factually many innocents have fallen victims to the aggressive behaviors and acts of their harassers and stalkers and badly needed a law for their own protection.

We have laws against physical body harm but most of the time the laws were proven useless as the victims of physical abuses are left to seek justice in the courts if they have the money to do so. No money means they should quietly accept being beaten, resign to their fate, it is a private matter.

So, we have this great bill, like the white knight coming to the rescue of people in distress. Would it be so or would the victims ended up like those being physically attacked and have to buy justice with their own money? No money no justice.