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Act to protect Singaporeans from harassment takes effect

SINGAPORE — 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, announced the Ministry of Law today (Jan 15).

SINGAPORE — 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, announced the Ministry of Law today (Jan 15).

In urgent cases, the Court may also grant a temporary expedited protection order on the spot. Breaches of Protection Orders or Expedited Protection Orders may amount to criminal offences.

With the Protection from Harassment Act 2014 now in force a range of civil remedies and criminal sanctions is now available to better protect people from harassment and related anti-social behaviour. The Act was passed in Parliament in March last year.

Under the Act, victims of false statements of facts alleged against them can also seek recourse. If the victim can prove in Court that the statements are false, the Court can direct the publication of a suitable notification which alerts readers that the statements are false. A person can also sue for monetary damages if he is a victim of harassment.

Under the Act, harassment is considered an offence be it committed in the physical world or online. Stalking — which causes harassment, alarm or distress to the victim — is similarly considered an offence.

The Act will also apply to offences committed outside Singapore as long as certain conditions are satisfied. For example, where an offender who is overseas stalks a victim who is in Singapore, and the offender knew or ought to have known that the victim would be in Singapore when doing so, he may be found guilty of the offence of stalking.

If convicted, a person can be fined up to S$5,000 and/or jailed up to 12 months. For repeat offenders, this increases to $10,000 and/or jail of up to two years.

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