Filmmaker involved in prison vigil the latest to be forbidden from overseas travel

Police at the candlelight vigil outside Changi Prison. Activists who took part in the vigil have been told by police that they cannot travel out of the country while being investigated. (Photo: Terry Xu/Facebook)

Filmmaker Jason Soo, who took part in the 13 July candlelight vigil for a prisoner on death row, is the latest to report that he was forbidden from travelling overseas because of ongoing investigations into the vigil.

Soo said in a Facebook post on 7 September that he called the police to reschedule his police interview. He was then told by the police that he would not be allowed to travel because the investigation was ongoing, after saying that he would be going to Perth for work from 15 to 17 September.

He was the second activist involved in the candlelight vigil to say that he was prevented from travelling overseas after Terry Xu, the editor of local news website The Online Citizen, said he was stopped from travelling to Malaysia while at the Woodlands Checkpoint on 6 September.

According to Soo, police referred him to the Criminal Procedure Code, Chapter 68, Section 112, which says that a police officer “may require a person whom he has reasonable grounds for believing has committed any offence to surrender his travel document”.

Soo wrote, “As you can see, Section 112 relates to the surrender of travel documents for persons suspected of any offence. But since I have not been ordered to surrender my passport, how can the police unilaterally suspend my right to travel?”

He added, “It may seem a trivial thing, this suspension of the right to travel. But there’s a bigger issue about proper procedure, and about the rights of citizens and the boundaries of police power. It’s also an example of how civil rights in this country are being gradually stripped away, inch by inch, little by little, until one day, we realize that the only rights we have left is the right to obey. You have been warned.”

On 13 July, anti-death penalty activists staged a candlelight vigil at Changi Prison in support of Prabagaran Srivijayan, who was later hanged on 14 July. The 29-year-old Malaysian had been sentenced to death after being convicted of importing 22.24g of heroin into Singapore.

Police went to the site of the vigil and asked the group to remove the candles and photos of Prabagaran, which they later confiscated. Police also filmed the participants and took photos of the scene. The participants were told they could stay at the site as long as they did not light any more candles.

On 3 Sept, the police then sent letters to those who participated in the vigil, saying they were being investigated for taking part in a public assembly without a permit.

On Thursday (7 Sept), human rights body Human Rights Watch had come out in support of the activists at the vigil, calling police investigations into the incident “harassment” of the activists.

Yahoo News Singapore has reached out to the police for their comment.

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