Statement on the current pre-sentencing treatment of Amos Yee Pang Sang
By Think Centre
Think Centre (TC) calls for the State to urgently review its treatment of Amos Yee before his final sentencing is confirmed. The State should immediately allow him to be transferred from his remand location at block 7 to either a suitably equipped private hospital to continue his assessment or at the minimum, to the private wards available in the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), to prevent further deterioration of his mental well-being.
Since his arrest, Yee has faced threats of violence to his person while both in remand and out on bail. To a great extent, this is a manifestation of unrestrained mob behaviour, driven by the siege mentality of those who are eager to participate in punishing Yee. TC strongly condemns this culture of revenge promoted by such actions and thinking, and reaffirms that the justice system is not a tool for individuals, collective or otherwise, to gratify such perverse inclinations.
The physical and verbal attacks Yee has faced and the traumatic consequences should be seriously considered by qualified mental healthcare professionals to determine the kind of treatment that any young persons or individual should receive while awaiting a future court hearing.
As an individual under the care of the IMH, TC understands that Yee’s mental well-being shall be considered as a first priority by the mental healthcare professionals there. The fact that Yee was ordered by the courts to be remanded at the facility to await his next court hearing, and not because of medical grounds should be another serious consideration of his ability to remain there without further risk to his mental well-being.
TC urges the State to respect the call from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on 22 June 2015, requesting the State “to consider the best interests of Amos Yee as a child”.
Singapore as a signatory to the United Nations Convention to the Rights of the Child, is committed under Article 40(1) which states, “Parties recognize the right of every child alleged as, accused of, or recognized as having infringed the penal law to be treated in a manner consistent with the promotion of the child’s sense of dignity and worth, which reinforces the child’s respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of others and which takes into account the child’s age and the desirability of promoting the child’s reintegration and the child’s assuming a constructive role in society”
Moreover, no person should be subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, especially not for someone awaiting sentencing and who is still a child.
TC urges the State to further recognise that the World Health Organization defines the right to health as “the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health”. In addition, within the 1991 UN resolution (A/RES/46/119) on “The protection of persons with mental illness and the improvement of mental health care”, principle 8 states that, “Every patient shall be protected from harm, including unjustified medication, abuse by other patients, staff or others or other acts causing mental distress or physical discomfort.”
TC urges all parties involved, especially the court-appointed healthcare professionals to heed the highest international standards necessary to maintain the health of an individual, applicable to Yee’s situation, and take immediate measures to prevent irrevocable damage to his mental wellbeing. TC further calls for Amos Yee to be released unconditionally when he next appears in court on the 6th July.
Note: This statement is made without prejudice as to whether or not Amos Yee has ASD, if indeed it is verified after thorough and fair examination.