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Immigration Offenders, Meet the Long Arm of the Law

When it comes to taking accused persons to court for offences under the Immigration Act or the Passports Act, the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority can count on the dedicated officers of its Prosecution Branch.
It’s 10am on an overcast Tuesday at the State Courts and a queue has formed outside its main entrance as lawyers in black suits and members of the public get ready for the first proceedings of the day. 

But standing apart from the crowd in his crisp blue uniform is Assistant Superintendent (ASP) Muhammad Izzat Abdul Rahman, 30. A Senior Prosecution Officer with the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA), he’s responsible for taking accused persons to court for offences committed under the Immigration Act or the Passports Act

Surprised that the ICA has a prosecutorial team? So was ASP Izzat when he first learnt about it. Here’s his story. 

Plead-guilty mentions, pre-trial conferences, criminal case disclosures, ancillary hearings and trials – these are just some of the 
Court proceedings that ASP Izzat takes part in as an officer with the ICA’s Prosecution Branch. PHOTO: Home Team News

Why did you want to join the Home Team?
It was an easy decision for me after I graduated from Nanyang Technological University in 2013. I couldn’t see myself going into the private sector; for me, it wasn’t about making money or personal achievement; I wanted to serve something greater than myself. 

So I joined the ICA that same year and became a Team Leader at Tuas Command. My work involved supervising officers on the ground and managing frontline operations.

How did you join the ICA’s Prosecution Branch? 
After about three-and-a-half years, I was posted to the ICA’s Enforcement Division, initially as an Investigation Officer with the Investigation Branch. As ICA officers, we’re granted powers of search and arrest, and in the course of our investigations, need to interact with people from all walks of life to gather evidence and build our cases. 

I joined the Prosecution Branch in June 2017. I hadn’t known that the ICA had a prosecutorial team, so it was a completely new experience for me. I’d never even been in a courtroom before.

How did you learn the skills you needed to take on your new role? 
I attended courses organised by the Attorney-General’s Chambers such as the "Basic Prosecutor's Course" and "Intensive Practicum: Pre-trial Conferences and Mentions." These courses equipped me with the knowledge and skills required for a prosecutor, such as how to draft charge sheets and prepare an address on sentence. 

“On the job” training was important too; I understudied with my fellow prosecutors and sat with them during their court cases. Throughout this process, it was constantly impressed upon me that we must be professional and well-prepared for every case because we’re representing the ICA. Preparing thoroughly is integral to ensure that a fair outcome is reached in terms of the sentence meted out. 

ASP Izzat attends to cases at the State Courts about three times a week. PHOTOS: Home Team News

What do your prosecutorial duties involve? 
At the Prosecution Branch, we conduct the full range of court proceedings at the State Courts. These include plead-guilty mentions, pre-trial conferences, criminal case disclosures, ancillary hearings and trials. 

Our cases involve offences under the Immigration Act and the Passports Act. I attend to cases at the State Courts about three times a week, and I prepare by studying the facts of the case, looking at past cases and going over my arguments. 

What are some of the challenges you face as a Senior Prosecution Officer? 
We must know our cases very well and be able to think on our feet. For example, during a trial, a witness may suddenly give a version of events contrary to what was uncovered during investigations. We need to know how to respond when that happens. 

We also work closely with ICA investigators to build strong cases. For instance, for a recent sham marriage syndicate case that involved 17 people, it was hard for us to uncover the overall narrative because of the many different accounts that were given to us. It took great effort to ensure that the case was successfully investigated and prosecuted. 

What do you love about your work as a Senior Prosecution Officer? 
When I first joined the ICA, I didn’t know that was such a job scope. It’s been challenging yet fulfilling, and I feel privileged to do this job!

Written by

Mike Tan


27 June 2018

Border Security
Immigration and Checkpoints Security
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