It is an offence for any person in Singapore to travel or try to travel to Ukraine to take up arms in the conflict there, said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Thursday (March 10).
The ministry said it is aware that the Embassy of Ukraine here has received calls from people expressing an interest to join the International Legion for the Territorial Defense of Ukraine.
Singapore has taken a clear stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and strongly condemns the invasion, said the ministry in a statement.
It added that the Singapore Government has called upon Russia to cease hostilities, and respect the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
“We would like to highlight that it is an offence for any person, whilst in Singapore, to wage, attempt to wage, or abet the waging of war, against the government of any power with which Singapore is not at war,” the ministry said.
“For citizens of Singapore, in particular, even if they commit these acts whilst outside Singapore, they will be legally deemed to have committed them as if in Singapore, and hence liable for an offence.”
Under the law, those who try to do so can be imprisoned for life, or up to 15 years. They can also be fined.
Responding to queries from The Straits Times on the Government’s assessment of the level of threats here, a ministry spokesman said that the police are monitoring the developments in Ukraine closely.
It will calibrate both security and public order measures accordingly and, the spokesman added, that the police may conduct enhanced patrols where necessary.
“The police would like to remind the public that organising or participating in a public assembly without a police permit in Singapore is illegal and constitutes an offence under the Public Order Act 2009,” he said.
The MHA spokesman also said that foreigners visiting or living in Singapore must abide by local laws.
“Those who break the law will be dealt with firmly, and this may include termination of visa or work passes. Members of the public who cause harm to foreigners visiting or living in Singapore will also be dealt with firmly,” he said.
MHA advised members of the public who wish to help Ukrainians to do so via legal channels.
For instance, they may donate to legitimate organisations, such as the Singapore Red Cross, that are raising funds for humanitarian aid to support affected communities in Ukraine, it said.
Public Order Act 2009 – Public Assemblies and Processions
Under the Public Order Act, a Police permit is required for a public assembly/procession if the purpose of the event is to:
- Demonstrate support for or opposition to the views or actions of any persons, group of persons or any government
- Publicise a cause or campaign
- Mark or commemorate any event
For assemblies/processions by non-Singaporeans as seen in this case, the Public Order Act states that the Police will not grant any permit for assemblies/processions organised by or involving non-Singaporeans that are directed towards a political end. This is especially if the purpose of the event is to further their own political causes, or to interfere in our domestic politics, policies and governance.
The Public Order Act is in place to prevent and deter any attempts to disrupt social harmony, stability or public peace. Singapore’s legislation and law enforcement measures fully comply with domestic and international legal obligations.
Legal ways to help Ukraine
In light of the crisis, there are many channels for Singaporeans to legally help Ukraine. When donating, do keep in mind to always verify that the organisation/website you are donating to is legitimate. Here are some organisations you may consider donating to.
1. Singapore Red Cross
The Singapore Red Cross has pledged to contribute US$100,000 to support the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. Your donations to this campaign will go towards relief supplies such as hygiene kits, family kits and household kits for the vulnerable who have been affected or displaced by the ongoing conflict. You can donate here.
2. Sunflower of Peace
This organisation is raising funds to provide first aid medical tactical backpacks for paramedics and doctors in Ukraine who are at the frontline. Whether your donations are big or small, every amount will go towards a variety of first aid supplies to help between five to 10 people per backpack – this includes items such as bandages, anti-hemorrhagic medicine and medical instruments. You can donate here.
Care has put together a Ukraine crisis fund with an aim to reach four million people, with priority given to the elderly, women, children and families. Your support will help with immediate aid and recovery, food and water, hygiene kits, and cash assistance. You can donate here.
4. United Help Ukraine
You can lend a helping hand to the country by donating to United Help Ukraine. This non-profit organisation aids with distributing donations, providing food and medical supplies to the frontlines, and assisting families of wounded or killed soldiers. You can donate here.
5. International Rescue Committee
The International Rescue Committee is known for helping people affected by humanitarian crises around the world. In particular, it provides health care, education for children, the empowerment of individuals and communities, and addresses the inequalities facing women and girls. For this cause, it has put together a campaign to help Ukrainian families. Your donation will help to rush critical aid to these affected people and homes. You can donate here.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) has put out an urgent appeal to help the 7.5 million children who are in danger in Ukraine. Depending on the amount you donate, you will be providing everything from first aid kits and medicine to hygiene kits and school supplies to young ones during this difficult time. You can donate here.
7. Project Hope
Emergency teams from Project Hope are sending medical supplies and carrying out health screenings for refugees in Ukraine. Your donation will assist in providing urgently-needed medicine, supplies and aid to families at risk from violent conflict. You can donate here.
8. Voices of Children
There’s no doubt that the traumatic effects of war are felt long after it ends. If you’d like to help the children of Ukraine get access to psychological assistance, Voices of Children is doing just that. It offers emergency psychological and psychosocial support for children and families, and also assists them in the evacuation process. You can donate here.
9. Gofundme’s Ukraine Humanitarian Fund
Gofundme is looking to raise US$1 million to support communities impacted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Your donation will go to various verified non-profit organisations in Europe to help the vulnerable find shelter, food, medical services, education and psychosocial support. You can donate here.
This article is written by Hariz Baharudin from The Straits Times, Samantha Yeo from The Honeycombers, with reference to the Ministry of Home Affairs website, and edited by Petrissia Teo from Asia Law Network.
This article does not constitute legal advice or a legal opinion on any matter discussed and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and practice in this area. If you require any advice or information, please speak to practicing lawyer in your jurisdiction. No individual who is a member, partner, shareholder or consultant of, in or to any constituent part of Interstellar Group Pte. Ltd. accepts or assumes responsibility, or has any liability, to any person in respect of this article.