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Singapore judge finds WSJ Asia in contempt of court for articles on judiciary

[JURIST] Singapore's High Court [official website] on Tuesday found the Wall Street Journal Asia [media website] in contempt of court over the newspaper's publication of three articles that allegedly undermined the country's judiciary. High Court Justice Tay Yong Kwang ruled that two editorials, "Democracy in Singapore" [text] and "Judging Singapore's Judiciary" [text], as well as a letter to the editor [text] from Singapore Democratic Party [political website] secretary general Chee Soon Juan, implied that the country's judiciary was "subservient" [AFP report] to the ruling People's Action Party [party website]. Tay fined the newspaper $16,500 plus court costs.

Earlier this month, the Singapore Attorney General's Chambers [official website] argued [JURIST report] that the case should be treated as contempt of court rather than libel, and that a contempt finding was a justifiable restriction on free speech in the public interest not contrary to Singapore's constitution [Section 14(1)(a) text]. In July, Singapore's government rejected [JURIST report] criticisms from the International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute [official website] after that group concluded that Singapore lacks an independent judiciary and fails to meet international standards of human rights by heavily regulating the international and domestic press and enforcing extreme defamation laws.

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