Singapore Bill lists criminal acts that can lead to detention without trial

SINGAPORE: The types of criminal activities that can result in detention without trial are spelt out for the first time under a proposed legislation introduced in Parliament on Tuesday (Jan 9).

These include unlicensed moneylending, drug trafficking, kidnapping and offences related to organised criminal group activities.

The change, which also covers orders for police supervision, is given in a new section set out in an amendment to the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act, or CLPTA.

The new section on the scope of criminal activities is among the changes set out in the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) (Amendment) Bill.

At present, no such list exists in the Act.

The Bill will "provide greater clarity in the scope of the Act, clarify the powers of the minister under the Act, and strengthen the administration of the police supervision order regime", said the ministry of home affairs in a statement.

The proposed Bill will also extend the operation of the CLTPA for a further period of five years, with effect from Oct 21, 2019.

The Act lapses after five years unless it is renewed, which explains why it is "temporary". Introduced in 1955, it has been extended 13 times.

The Bill also states the home affairs minister's decision is final in two aspects: Whether a person is linked to criminal activities and if detention is necessary for reasons of public safety, peace and good order.

The minister, following consent from the public prosecutor, can then order the detention of suspected criminals without trial.

The detention orders are reviewed annually.

The number of these detainees have been falling, according to the annual reports of the prison service.

There were 136 in 2014; 118 in 2015; and 109 in 2016.

With the proposed change, the obligations and restrictions of a person held under criminal law police supervision will be moved into a subsidiary legislation.

The shift will give the minister greater flexibility in imposing the necessary obligations and restrictions.

As a safeguard, each order is reviewed by an independent advisory committee made up of prominent private citizens, including Justices of the Peace, former judges and senior lawyers.

The committee will present its recommendations to the President who may confirm, vary or cancel the order on the advice of the Cabinet.

Under the Bill, Central Narcotics Bureau officers will also be given powers to investigate breaches of police supervision orders. – The Straits Times/Asia News Network

Singapore , Parliament