Shanmugam: MHA can activate police powers banning videos & photos of ongoing terrorist attack
These powers are not available for ordinary circumstances.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) can activate special powers for the police that allows them to exert greater control over communications in the event of a terrorist attack.
This was the reply by Minister for Home Affairs K Shanmugam in Parliament on Sept. 3, in response to a question by MP Christopher de Souza, on the available legal tools deterring the filming or photographing of police officers attending to a security threat.
Special powers that allow the police to impose a communications blackout
These special powers are known as the the Public Order and Safety (Special Powers) Act (POSSPA), and give the Commissioner of Police the means to issue a Communications Stop Order (CSO).
Under a CSO, the taking or sharing of films, pictures, texts, or audio messages of the entire declared incident area is effectively banned.
Additionally, this ban applies to everybody, instead of a specific individual.
Should a person be found to be in breach of the CSO, he or she is liable to two years’ imprisonment, a fine of up to S$20,000, or both.
Shanmugam further added that such special powers are not available in day-to-day operations and need to be activated by the minister before they can be used.
What about ordinary situations?
Shanmugam added that the Public Order Act (POA) gives law enforcement officers the powers to halt a specific individual from taking or sharing films or pictures of ongoing operations.
Should the person fail to comply, he or she is liable to a punishment of up to one year imprisonment, a fine of up to $20,000, or both.
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