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79 complaints received since Protection from Harassment Act came into force

SINGAPORE — Two months after laws targeting harassment came into force, the State Courts have received 79 magistrate’s complaints, including six that involve unlawful stalking.

SINGAPORE — Two months after laws targeting harassment came into force, the State Courts have received 79 magistrate’s complaints, including six that involve unlawful stalking.

The majority of the complaints, numbering 69, relate to causing harassment, alarm or distress, while seven cases involved causing fear or provocation of violence, statistics released by the State Courts showed. A single case might have involved more than one type of harassment, said a spokesperson.

Thirteen applications for protection orders have also been made as of Wednesday — of which three have been granted — by way of originating summons filed, the spokesperson said. The other applications are ongoing.

Originating summons are for civil actions, while magistrate’s complaints relate to criminal matters.

The Protection from Harassment Act came into force on Nov 15 and provides a range of responses to harassment. The new law was passed by Parliament to resounding support in March last year and the Ministry of Law worked with the Ministry of Home Affairs and social welfare agencies, as well as spoke to victims of harassment, to develop detailed rules and processes for dealing with various forms of harassment.

Applications under the new law can be made at counters located in the Crime Registry in the State Courts Building at Havelock Square.

In a media release yesterday, the Law and Home Affairs ministries said victims of harassment can apply directly to the court for a protection order to stop the harassment and the spread of harassing communication by others who republish the content. In urgent cases, the court may grant an expedited protection order on the spot. Breaches of both types of orders may amount to criminal offences.

Victims of false statements of facts can also go to the court to seek a direction for the publication of a suitable notification — which will be at the court’s discretion — to alert readers that the statements are false.

Criminal penalties under the Protection from Harassment Act include fines of up to S$5,000 and/or jail terms of up to 12 months, with more severe penalties for repeat offenders.

Fees to file documents in the Magistrate’s Court have been kept low, with the typical cost to get a protection order at about S$300 to S$500.

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