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Safety and Security

The Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions)(Amendment) Bill


The Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act was enacted on 21st October 1955. Since then, Parliament has extended it ten times. The last time was five years ago in 1999. The Act will expire on 20th October this year. This Bill seeks to extend the Act for another five years. The Bill also amends the Act to provide for the taking of body samples for DNA profiling of persons arrested, detained or placed on police supervision under the Act.

Need for the Act

2 Over the past 5 years, the SS and drug situation has continued to improve considerably. But the Act still remains relevant today. Though suppressed, secret society activities and violence still rears its ugly head in Singapore, and the Act has, more than once, proven to be effective against secret societies, syndicated criminal activities as well as drug trafficking.

3 Singapore has succeeded in keeping itself free from triad-related problems faced by some of our neighbouring countries. A key factor that has deterred EAGs from locating their activities here is the CL(TP) Act, working in synergy with the tough laws, effective enforcement actions and a non-corrupt government.

Drug Trafficking

4 Another area where the CL(TP) Act is indispensable is drug trafficking. Drug trafficking is an extremely lucrative trade. Drug traffickers and syndicate leaders have become very sophisticated in their modus operandi. They deviously stay clear from actual drug transactions and activities. Instead, couriers, organizers and recruiters are engaged to conduct the business.

5 Allowing the Act to lapse may be misinterpreted as a softening of our tough stance and a weakening of our ability to deal with drug trafficking. This would be a wrong signal and may encourage international drug trafficking syndicates to use Singapore as a staging point for their illicit drug activities. More drugs will then find their way to the local population, resulting in higher 'contamination' levels.

6 In short, secret society, syndicated crimes and drug trafficking activities have declined considerably and are under control. However, the possibility of resurgence is always there. We therefore still need the strong deterrence offered by the Act.

Built-In Safeguards

7 The following safeguards are incorporated into the Act and built into the administrative procedures to ensure that enforcement agencies do not abuse their powers and resort to using the Act without the strongest justification:

i) Any proposal by Police or CNB to detain a person under the Act or to place him under police supervision will be scrutinized by senior officials in MHA and the Attorney-General's Chambers before a Detention or Police Supervision Order is issued. Departments cannot take the easy way out. They have to justify the use of the Act in every case.

ii) An Advisory Committee comprising prominent private citizens such as Justices of the Peace, senior lawyers and community leaders scrutinize the investigations and documentary evidence and may examine detainees, investigating officers and witnesses. At the Committee's hearing, detainees may be represented by legal counsel. The Committee subsequently makes its recommendation to the President.

iii) DOs are reviewed annually by a separate Review Committee, also comprising prominent private citizens. Members of the Review Committee are distinct from the Advisory Committee, ensuring independent decision-making. Any recommendation to extend detention for a further 12-month period must be approved by the President.

iv) A separate Review Board, also with a different set of members, will consider all cases of detention extending beyond 10 years. This process ensures that cases where persons have been detained beyond 10 years are specially scrutinized to determine that they have not been detained longer than is necessary.

v) Coming before Parliament every 5 years to renew the Act is an additional safeguard to ensure the Act is still needed in view of changing circumstances, and that it is being applied properly.

Other Amendments

8 Another key amendment to the Act is to provide for the taking of body samples for DNA profiling of persons arrested, detained or placed on police supervision under the Act.

9 With advancement in technology, DNA profiling is widely used in forensic investigations in many countries. It has become an important tool in solving crimes. Each individual has a unique genetic DNA information. The chances of two persons in the world sharing the same DNA profile are in the region of one in 250 billion.

10 The Registration of Criminals Act or "RCA" was amended in 2002 to provide for the establishment of a DNA database of criminals convicted in court for registrable offences. The Singapore Police Force DNA database was officially launched in Jul 2004. Police have in fact been using DNA forensics from as early as 1991. Back then, DNA testing was largely confined to the direct matching of a suspect's DNA profile with that collected at the crime scene. The new DNA database, however, comprises both the offenders' DNA profiles as well as DNA profiles recovered from crime scenes. This is particularly useful in pinning down repeat offenders as their DNA profiles are matched against DNA profiles collected from crime scenes.

11 Detainees and supervisees under the CL(TP) Act have been known to be involved in other crimes. A check on those issued with detention and supervision orders from 1994 to 2003 showed that 60% were found to have conviction records.

12 This amendment will ensure that our DNA database is more comprehensive. In turn, this will help improve intelligence and focus investigative efforts for more effective crime solving.

Last updated on 16 Jun 2007
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