The Singapore government passed the Protection from Harassment Bill this year with the aim of enhancing protection of Singaporeans from anti-social behaviour in both the real world and cyberspace.
Currently, acts of harassment is protected by the common law and sections 13A-13D of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance Act). The new Act will extendprotection from acts committed in real life, such as stalking or work-place bullying, to online acts of harassment, which includes threatening, abusive or offensive words and cyber-bullying.
The act will also include this new protection from unlawful stalking, which is defined as either an act or omission that harasses or alarms the victim and the accused possessed the intention or ought to have known that his behaviour is causing the victim distress. This sort of behaviour includes:
- Physically following the victim
- Attempting to communicate with the victim
- Loitering or entering the victim’s residence
- Delivering materials to the victim
- Spying on the victim
These acts may amount to harassment depending on the following factors:
- The way the acts were carried out and the facts of the case
- The potential
- Frequency and duration of the acts
- Effects the acts would have on the victim’s safety, health, reputation and freedom
- Circumstances of the victim eg. physical or mental health, personality etc.
Remedies for victims
Victims of harassment can claim damages or apply to the court of a personal protection order against the accused. The accused may thus be given a fine, community order or imprisonment. For repeated offenders, there is an enhanced penalty of up to $10,000 fine or a jail term not exceeding 2 years or both.