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Amos Yee to be remanded at IMH, assessed for treatment

SINGAPORE — Teenage blogger Amos Yee will be remanded for two weeks at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) for an assessment on his suitability for a mandatory treatment order (MTO), after it was found that he could have autism spectrum disorder.

SINGAPORE — Teenage blogger Amos Yee will be remanded for two weeks at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) for an assessment on his suitability for a mandatory treatment order (MTO), after it was found that he could have autism spectrum disorder.

His lawyer Alfred Dodwell has also submitted to the court an undertaking by Amos, 16, to privatise his offending postings on social media and not repost or circulate them. 

Amos had been remanded in Changi Prison since June 2 for an assessment on whether he is suited for reformative training, after he rejected the option of probation.

Today (June 23), the court heard that Amos was deemed physically and mentally suitable for reformative training, but District Judge Jasvender Kaur noted that the report indicated a possibility of him suffering from autism spectrum disorder. She called for an assessment of his suitability for an MTO.

Autism spectrum disorders are a range of developmental disorders characterised by difficulties in socialisation and communication, and restricted or repetitive pattern of behaviours and interest.

An MTO, one of several community-based sentencing options introduced in January 2011, will require an offender suffering from psychiatric conditions to undergo treatment in lieu of imprisonment. If the offender successfully completes his treatment, he will be cleared of his conviction.

Amos was convicted of posting an obscene image online and posting content intended to hurt the religious feelings of Christians after a two-day trial last month.

Neither the prosecution nor the defence objected to the district judge’s call for an assessment of the teenager’s suitability for an MTO.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Hay Hung Chun told the court that the prosecution had suggested in two previous occasions for Amos be “assessed by the relevant experts”.

Mr Dodwell said later: “We want what is in Amos’ best interest, so, we hope he is given the appropriate treatment that will help him. Amos did not object to being assessed, and so we did not challenge it in court.”

Yesterday, the United Nations Human Rights Office for South-east Asia called on  the Government to review Amos’ conviction, and asked that prosecutors drop their demand for reformative training.

Among those in the fully packed courtroom yesterday were Amos’ parents and civil activist Teo Soh Lung.

His mother, Ms Mary Toh, donned a white T-shirt with a #FreeAmosYee message showing a picture of Amos in a yellow banana submarine.

Amos first appeared in court at 11.10am, almost two hours after his hearing was scheduled to have started. He looked unkempt and tired, as he trudged from the first holding room to another.

When court proceedings began more than 30 minutes later, Amos – dressed in prison garb – had his head bowed down low, a dazed expression etched on his face.

Speaking to the media after the brief hearing today, Amos’ father, Mr Alphonsus Yee, noted that there was speculation online about Amos’ mental health. But Mr Yee added that previous medical check-ups had not revealed that his son might have any disorder.

Amos will return to court on the afternoon of July 6.

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