19 Mar 2018 Posted in Parliamentary speeches and responses
Mr Speaker, Sir, I beg to move, “That the Bill be now read a Second time.”
This Bill is closely related to the next bill on our Order Paper, the Evidence (Amendment) Bill. Sir, may I therefore suggest, with your permission, that the debate on both Bills take place now as both these Bills are closely related. Members would be welcome to raise questions or express their views on both Bills during this debate.
We would still have the formal Second Reading of the Evidence (Amendment) Bill as well to ensure that the procedural requirements are dealt with. However, the proposal is to have the substantive debate for both Bills take place now to avoid duplication or overlap so that all substantive arguments can be captured cogently in a single debate.
- Mr Speaker, the Government has made important changes to the criminal justice system over the past decade.
- These changes have been towards a more progressive, balanced and modern criminal justice system that protects society from crime.
- In 2010, we repealed and re-enacted the Criminal Procedure Code (the CPC), after a sustained period of review of more than two years.
- In 2012 we amended the Evidence Act to reduce the stress that complainants of sexual offences experience during the court process.
- In 2012, we made calibrations to the death penalty regime.
- In 2015, the Government began funding of criminal legal aid, through the Law Society.
- The amendments in these Bills continue in this spirit. Let me recap the key principles which underpinned the revisions to criminal procedure in 2010.
- First the presumption of innocence must be respected.
- Second, there must be fair processes – they must reflect a balance between various interests, and each society must decide for itself what a fair balance is.
- Third, accurate outcomes - The system must be effective at arriving at the truth to ensure that the guilty are held accountable, and the innocent are not convicted.
- The current amendments are made with the same principles in mind. We made a sustained effort to obtain and consider feedback.
- Public consultation was held for a month in Jul to Aug 2017.
- We received around 30 contributions from a wide spectrum of society – the general public, civil society organisations, banks, technology companies, and the Bar.
- We also had an extensive dialogue with the Law Society and the Criminal Bar from the start of the public consultation until January this year when we had a the dialogue with the Criminal Bar We took on board a number of their suggestions.
- The Law Society President, Mr Gregory Vijayendran acknowledged this, in his address at the Opening of the Legal Year 2018: “the Bar appreciates the constructive consultations we have had with the Ministry of Law on amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code. The Law Ministry officials have shown considerable respect for the Law Society’s perspectives – a number of which were accommodated. Even when we agreed to disagree, the process was positive and the dialogue, candid.”
- Finally, there were ongoing consultations with the Judiciary, the Attorney-General’s Chambers, and other ministries.
- There was broad support for the amendments proposed.
- I would add that we are concurrently in the midst of a fairly fundamental review of the Penal Code. The Penal Code Review Committee comprises representatives from the Judiciary, AGC, the Criminal Bar, Academia, and the Government.
- The proposed changes to criminal procedure that we are discussing, taken together with the proposed changes to the Penal Code will put our criminal justice system on a strong footing going forward.
Overview of changes
- The amendments can be split into three main categories:
- Investigative processes
- Court procedure
- Sentencing powers of the Court
- Under these three categories, there are more than 50 discrete proposals. I will not go through the technical amendments in detail, although Members are welcome to ask questions, but I will briefly cover the non-technical amendments.
Introduction of Video Recording of Interviews (VRI)
- Under the current law, law enforcement agencies taking statements under the CPC can only do so in writing.
- The Bill will allow such statements to be taken via video recording.
- This will assist the Courts to try cases more effectively when investigation statements are sought to be admitted in a criminal trial –
- First, they will be able to take into account the interviewee’s demeanour when deciding on the weight to be accorded to statements.
- Second, video recordings also provide an objective account of the interview, to assist the Court in deciding on any allegations made about the conduct of the interview.
- The implementation of VRI requires significant investment of infrastructure and training.
- It will therefore have to be implemented in phases.
- In the first phase of implementation, we intend to make it mandatory to conduct VRI for suspects in rape offences under section 375(1) (a).
- However, we recognise that there may be instances where there is a need for exceptions. These will be set out in the legislation.
- For example, there may be a need to record a handwritten contemporaneous statement from an accused person at the scene of the crime, when the person is arrested at the scene. The legislation allows for flexibility to take into account such operational exigencies.
Enhancing computer-related powers of investigation
- The next set of amendments relate to the powers of investigation relating to evidence stored on computers.
- Crimes increasingly involve the use of computers, smartphones and the internet.
- We are enhancing the computer-related powers of investigation in the CPC to keep pace with this evolving environment – Investigators will be able to order the production of evidence stored on computers where such evidence is in the subject’s possession or power.
- Our investigators have also been analysing and searching through large amounts of data.
- To increase investigators’ efficiency when processing electronic evidence produced under such an order, the amendments will allow regulations to be made to specify how such production orders must be complied with, including the format of the reply and the method of delivery.
- This is intended to enable electronic replies in machine-processable formats.
- We have consulted industry stakeholders who provide data to our investigators, and have taken into account their feedback in determining the requirements that will be imposed.
- Investigators will also be empowered to access, secure and safeguard evidence on computers, regardless of whether the evidence is stored on a computer inside or outside Singapore.
- Many people now use web-based email accounts or web storage accounts. Technically, such data may reside in computers outside Singapore, even if the data is accessed from within Singapore.
- Applicable laws in other countries will be duly considered when such powers are exercised.
Allowing a male officer to search a woman suspected of a terrorist act
- The Bill makes a small but important amendment to the search powers of police officers and immigration officers.
- Currently, women can only be searched by female officers.
- The amendments will allow a male officer to search a woman, in specific circumstances –
- The officer reasonably suspects the woman of involvement in a terrorist act.
- Second, the officer believes in good faith that the terrorist act is imminent.
- Third, the officer believes in good faith that the search cannot be made within a reasonable time by a woman officer.
- This will allow searches of women suspected of being terrorists where time is of the essence and any delay could mean loss of lives.
Strengthening the bail regime
- The Minister for Law had said in late 2014 that the Ministry would be reviewing the framework on bail.
- This was after the 2014 hostage-taking incident in a Sydney café perpetrated by a person who was accused of a serious crime and yet had been released on bail.
- He went on to take 17 innocent persons hostage in a Sydney café.
- The incident eventually led to the death of two innocent persons.
- There is a need to strike a balance –
- On the one hand, the presumption of innocence means that it would be unfair for someone accused of a crime to be kept locked up in remand when he or she has not yet been found guilty by a Court.
- On the other hand, there must be sufficient means to secure the accused person’s continued attendance in Court, to ensure justice is served.
- The system must also ensure that those who
- may pose a danger to public safety,
- are at risk of re-offending while on bail, or
- who may interfere with evidence,
- are not released on bail.
- With these considerations in mind, the Bill strengthens the bail regime in a number of ways.
- First, the Bill makes certain adjustments to the categorisation of “bailable” and “non-bailable” offences.
- It may be helpful if I clarify for Members the meaning of “bailable” and “non-bailable” at this point, to avoid confusion –
- If an offence is “bailable”, it means that the accused person is entitled to bail as of right – if the Prosecution objects, then it is for the Prosecution to show why the person should not be granted bail.
- If an offence is “non-bailable”, on the other hand, the accused person is not entitled to bail. He or she must show the Court why bail ought to be granted. If they fail to do so, they will be remanded. In practice, many accused persons charged with “non-bailable” offences are released on bail with conditions intended to ensure their attendance in Court.
- On that note, we are making certain offences non-bailable –
- Cheating under section 420 of the Penal Code.
- This brings cheating in line with the treatment of other similar offences carrying similar penalties, for example, criminal breach of trust (CBT).
- Offences which concern false evidence and offences against public justice will also be made non-bailable.
- These offences relate to interference with the administration of justice
- Second, the Courts’ powers relating to bail and personal bonds will be clarified and enhanced. For e.g. –
- Important bail or bond conditions (for e.g. to surrender travel documents, to surrender to custody when required) will be imposed by default unless the court orders otherwise.
- Many of these conditions are already ordered by the Court as a matter of course, but this will further tighten the system.
- Electronic tagging (“e-tagging”) will be allowed as a condition of bail.
- This will assist the Police in monitoring accused persons who have been released on bail.
- The Court will be given the discretion to withhold bail for bailable offences punishable with imprisonment, if there are substantial grounds to believe that the accused person would abscond.
- The rules on execution of bail pending a bail review will be tightened –
- If the State Courts grant bail for a non-bailable offence, and the Prosecution intends to apply to the High Court for a review of bail, the State Courts will be required to order that the accused person is not allowed to go on bail until the review is determined.
- In other words, the accused person will have to be remanded until the High Court decides on the bail review.
- If the State Courts grant bail for a bailable offence, and the Prosecution intends to apply for review, the State Courts will have a discretion on whether to allow the accused person to go on bail pending determination of the review.
- Third, the Bill creates three new offences to ensure that bail remains effective. It will now be an offence to –
- Abscond while on bail or personal bond;
- Leave the jurisdiction without permission, for persons whose travel documents have been impounded by investigators; and
- Indemnify a surety, or, if you are a surety, to agree to be indemnified.
Court procedure and evidence
Enhancing protection for victims of sexual and child abuse offences
- In the past two years or so, there has been a concerted effort to ensure that vulnerable victims of crime are sufficiently protected by our criminal justice system.
- One particularly vulnerable group of victims are those who are subject to sexual or child abuse. We have re-examined every step in the system, to minimise the trauma that such victims experience in the process of bringing perpetrators to justice.
- Some measures have already been implemented by the Police – e.g.
- One-stop centre for medical examinations to minimise waiting time for sexual crime victims,
- Enhanced training curriculum for police officers to better handle sexual crime victims, and
- The pilot of a Multi-Disciplinary Interview (MDI) model for children who had been sexually abused.
- These Bills introduce a suite of measures to further enhance protection. Let me highlight a few examples.
- First, the publication of information leading to the victim’s identity will be automatically prohibited – even before the case goes before the Courts.
- One of the fears that victims have when deciding whether to report sexual offences, is that media coverage will cause them further distress.
- This is why the courts often grant gag orders to prevent the publication of information that may lead to the identification of a victim.
- However, the case must actually be before the Court before such an order can be granted.
- This means that if a person gets wind of the identity of a victim, and the case has not yet come before the courts under current law, that person can make public information revealing the victim’s identity
- Some suspects may even do this to intimidate the victim and make them basically pay a price for making a police report.
- To prevent this, the Bills will move the restrictions upstream – anyone who knows that another person is an alleged victim of a sexual offence will not be allowed to publish any information that may lead to the identification of the victim’s identity
- So for example, a person could have confided in a colleague that she was the victim of a sexual offence. If this colleague makes public the fact that the person was such a victim, the colleague would be committing an offence. And this applies even if the person has not reported the offence to the police.
- Second, all victims of sexual or child abuse offences will give testimony in a closed-door hearing, unless they wish to give evidence in open court.
- Third, we will amend the Evidence Act so that we can put in place subsidiary legislation that restricts the kinds of questions the Defence can ask.
- They will not be allowed to ask questions about the victim’s sexual behaviour with persons other than the accused, where such behaviour does not relate to the charge, unless they have leave of Court.
- Application for leave must be made in the absence of the victims.
- This will help prevent a re-occurrence of the incident that the press reported on late last year, where a defence lawyer embarked on a line of distressing questions when cross-examining an alleged victim of molestation.
- Finally, Clause 77 will allow the video-recorded statements of vulnerable victims, such as victims of serious sexual offences, to be used in place of their oral evidence-in-chief in court.
- Testifying in court can be a difficult experience for such victims.
- Where possible, we want to minimise the trauma that these victims face in the court process.
- This will only be implemented in later phases.
- We recognise that this must be implemented sensitively in order to help arrive at the truth – and we will work with stakeholders on training and methods.
Enhancing the courts’ discretion to order exceptions to open court proceedings
- The Bill also makes amendments to the State Courts Act and Supreme Court of Judicature Act, to fine-tune the courts’ discretion to order exceptions to open court proceedings.
- The courts already have this discretion, but we are doing it to clarify the scope of the discretion by setting out a non-exhaustive list of matters that the court may consider when deciding whether to grant such an order.
- So, we are not amending the discretion, per se. We are just setting out a list of non-exhaustive matters that the court can take into account.
- We will also expressly allow the court to exclude the general public while permitting certain categories of person to be present e.g.
- Bona fide representatives of the press or media
- The families of the victim or accused persons, or
- Other persons as the Court may identify in its discretion.
Enhancing and rationalising the fitness to plead/unsoundness of mind regime
- The law provides for special procedures to deal with two categories of accused persons with special needs –
- those who are ‘unfit to plead’, in other words not capable of making their defence at the time of trial; and
- those who are acquitted on the basis that they were of unsound mind at the time that they committed the offences.
- The procedures balance the need to ensure that such persons are not a danger to themselves or others, and the need to respect the fact that such persons have not been convicted of any offence.
- They are also designed to provide such persons with the best possible opportunities of recovery, in a controlled environment.
- The Bills make quite significant amendments to this regime, to allow the courts and medical professionals to play a more involved role in determining the most appropriate action to take in respect of such persons.
- So for example, such persons may be released with certain conditions where they are not assessed to be a danger to themselves or others.
- There is a risk in doing this; we have seen instances in other countries where release has led to harm.
- For example, it was reported in 2016 that a man in New Zealand who killed a person but was acquitted on the basis of insanity was released after a few years in detention and had gone on to commit another violent attack in a train station.
- So, there are these considerations, but it is the right thing to do where doing so would help in the accused person’s recovery. The alternative would be to confine them for extended periods of time, which may not be necessary nor helpful.
- So, due weight will be given to medical opinion, and the necessary conditions imposed, to minimise the risk of re-offending as much as possible
- A maximum duration will be set for confinements pursuant to the Minister’s orders.
- The courts and medical professionals will be given a greater role in supervising such persons and determining what measures to take with respect to such accused persons.
- An accused person released under these CPC provisions may still however still be subject to detention under the Mental Health Care and Treatment Act if he is assessed to remain a danger to himself or herself or to others.
Introduction of Deferred Prosecution Agreements
- The Bill introduces a legislative framework for the Prosecution to enter into Deferred Prosecution Agreements (“DPAs”) with corporate offenders.
- This gives Prosecutors another tool to more effectively deal with corporate offending.
- This tool is particularly useful where prosecution of a corporate offender unnecessarily punishes not just the management, but also the employees or other stakeholders and shareholders of the corporate entity for what might be the acts of a small number of employees or officers of the company.
- The corporation must be represented by counsel, and the framework will only apply to scheduled offences.
- Under a DPA, the Prosecution agrees not to prosecute a corporation in exchange for strict compliance by the corporation with a series of conditions.
- Such conditions can include –
- Admission of wrongdoing by the corporate offender
- Requiring the corporation to pay a financial penalty. Unlike some criminal fines, the financial penalty will not be subject to a statutory maximum.
- And, one reason for this is that the harm brought about by corporate offending may eclipse any pre-determined statutory maximum that may be prescribed.
- Requiring the corporation to implement programmes for corporate reform going forward.
- And requiring the corporation to assist in investigations and prosecution of other wrongdoers (including individuals).
- There are also safeguards –
- All DPAs will require High Court approval. Approval will only be granted if the High Court is satisfied that –
- The DPA is in the interests of justice; and
- Its terms are fair, reasonable and proportionate.
- Our intention is that in assessing the proportionality of the conditions proposed, the High Court will balance the extent of the wrongdoing, including the revenue or profits attributable to the wrongdoing, with the ability of the corporation to comply.
- To ensure transparency, DPAs must be published after High Court approval unless the Court orders otherwise.
Establishing a Criminal Procedure Rules Committee
- A structural change to the way criminal procedure is regulated is that a Criminal Procedure Rules Committee, chaired by the Chief Justice, will be established.
- Currently, almost every change in court procedure, even on technical issues, needs to be tabled in Parliament. The responsibility for making court-related procedural rules (for e.g., timelines for filing documents) will be shifted to the CPRC.
- This allows for court procedure to remain nimble and up-to-date, and is the practice in other countries such as the United Kingdom.
- Besides the Chief Justice who will chair the Committee, the Committee will consist of representatives from the:
- Attorney-General’s Chambers
- As a safeguard, any rule made by the CPRC will have to be approved by both the Chief Justice and the Minister.
- We have discussed this proposal with the Courts, and they are supportive.
Streamlining pre-trial procedures in the High Court – extending the transmission procedure to replace the committal hearing procedure
- Under the present law, cases triable in the High Court must first go through a procedure called a Committal Hearing, before the case is put before the High Court.
- The only exception would be serious sexual offences such as rape, which are transmitted to the High Court by the Public Prosecutor’s fiat. This is called the transmission procedure.
- Historically, this procedure was meant to filter out cases where the Prosecution does not have sufficient evidence to justify a High Court trial. Such cases are filtered out in two ways –
- First, the Prosecution is required to disclose the evidence that it has on hand before trial.
- Second, the Defence is allowed to cross-examine the Prosecution’s witnesses to test the evidence.
- Today, the main benefit of this procedure has become pre-trial documentary disclosure, as the Defence seldom chooses to cross-examine Prosecution witnesses.
- Doing away with the Committal Hearing will shorten the time that the accused has to spend in remand pending trial.
- A similar review in England and Wales a few years ago also resulted in the abolition of Committal Hearings there.
- We will continue to require the Prosecution to disclose its case and evidence, according to the criminal disclosure regime, for most cases that today would have been subject to the Committal Hearing procedure.
- On the whole, abolishing the Committal Hearing and substituting it with the transmission procedure and criminal disclosure obligations, will shorten the waiting time for trial, and free up precious judicial resources to focus on the substance of cases.
Extending video link hearings to pleas of guilty and sentencing
- Currently, the law provides for remanded accused persons to appear before the court through video link for various procedural matters.
- This reduces the security risk of transporting remandees between prison and the courts.
- We are expanding the use of video links to hearings for the taking of pleas, and sentencing hearings in the State Courts.
- The use of video links for such hearings is already in practice in countries such as the UK, Canada, and some states in the US and Australia.
- Video links will not be used for trials.
- Judges will retain discretion on whether the accused should be physically produced in court.
- To provide operational flexibility, the Minister will be able to prescribe other proceedings, both procedural and substantive, in which the accused person may appear before the court through video link, if remanded at the time of the proceeding.
- MinLaw is working with MHA and the State Courts to pilot this for selected cases in the later part of this year.
- We will evaluate the experience of using video links for such hearings before extending the procedure.
Expanding the CCD procedure to cover more offences
- Pre-trial disclosure was introduced in the CPC in 2010, as one of the most major changes to criminal procedure in the history of our criminal justice system.
- Disclosure has been welcomed, and both Prosecutors and Defence counsel have grown comfortable with the system of disclosure.
- It is therefore an opportune time to expand the pre-trial disclosure requirements to more offences.
- With the inclusion of the Prevention of Corruption Act, Moneylenders Act, Remote Gambling Act, Prevention of Human Trafficking Act, and Casino Control Act, practically all the major criminal offences will now be covered by the pre-trial disclosure regime for criminal cases.
- In recent years, the courts have seen a rise in the use of psychiatric expert evidence in criminal cases.
- Most of the psychiatrists who give evidence are objective and professional.
- However, there have been a few instances where such evidence has fallen short of the basic standards of objectivity and competence expected of expert witnesses.
- In one case, the Chief Justice had this to say about the psychiatrist who had given evidence –
- “not only was the report patently lacking in objectivity, it was plainly erroneous... experts owe their duty first and foremost to the court and not to the client who pays their fee...” (Mehra Radhika v Public Prosecutor  1 SLR 96 at )
- The Bills will require that psychiatrists be admitted to a court-administered panel of psychiatrists, before they can be called upon to give expert evidence in court.
- This will safeguard the objectivity and quality of psychiatric expert evidence.
- We have discussed this approach with the Courts, and they are supportive.
- We also took in feedback from the Criminal Bar on two practical areas –
- One, we will formulate the selection criteria to ensure that there is a sufficient pool of psychiatrists available; and
- Two, procedures for the ad hoc admission of foreign psychiatrists will be put in place so that the Defence counsel can call such psychiatrists as expert witnesses in appropriate circumstances.
Sentencing and other powers of the court
The community sentencing regime
- The introduction of community sentences in 2010 was widely welcomed by members of this House, and by stakeholders in the criminal justice system.
- We have monitored the use of community sentences – they have been popular and have worked well in targeting the root causes of crime.
- When implemented well and for suitable cases, community sentences can give those who commit minor offences a good chance at rehabilitation without unnecessary disruption to their lives. Let me cite one example –
- Patient A was a pharmacy student in his early 20s when he was charged with the theft of a laptop at the university hostel.
- He was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH).
- He was subsequently placed under a Mandatory Treatment Order (MTO) for 2 years.
- This entailed regular consultations with his psychiatrist, and he was given antidepressants.
- His sister was also supportive; in fact he moved in with his sister so that she could provide closer monitoring.
- The case manager also followed up regularly to provide counselling.
- His treatment was therefore a combination of pharmaceutical and psycho-social care.
- Patient A remained offence free throughout the MTO period, and succeeded in completing his Pharmacy degree.
- He continued seeing his psychiatrist at IMH after the MTO, to continue treatment.
- Things could have turned out differently for this young man, if he had been sentenced to imprisonment. While our rehabilitative programmes have grown in sophistication over the years, being cut off from his supportive family network and the disruption to his studies may have undermined his successful rehabilitation.
- It is because of cases like this, that we see value in expanding the eligibility criteria for community sentences, so that more offenders can benefit from the rehabilitative opportunities offered by community sentences. This will have to be done in a controlled manner, to strike the right balance with deterring crime.
- Offenders who have previously served short sentences of imprisonment or previous terms of Reformative Training will be eligible for community sentences.
- The Mandatory Treatment Order (“MTO”) will be made available for a prescribed list of more serious offences, which are punishable with up to 7 years’ imprisonment. This is up from the current availability of MTOs only for offences punishable with up to 3 years’ imprisonment.
- The Bills also increase the maximum duration of a MTO to 36 months, and allow the court to order a period of in-patient treatment as part of the MTO. This will allow the Institute of Mental Health to deliver a more effective treatment programme, where needed.
- Finally, the Bills will give the court the power to impose a suspended imprisonment sentence together with a community sentence. The suspended sentence will take effect the moment a community sentence has been breached.
- This will encourage compliance with community sentences, when imposed in suitable cases.
Introducing changes to reformative training
- Besides community sentences, the Bills also make major changes to another sentencing option that is focused on rehabilitation – the reformative training (“RT”) regime.
- The RT regime is specifically geared towards the rehabilitation of young offenders.
- It emphasises both discipline and rehabilitation in a structured environment, where officers provide supervision and guidance to the RT trainees.
- The trainees will go through programmes that will help them take charge of their rehabilitation. They will need to soberly reflect on their offences, on how to stay crime-free, and on how to strengthen their relationships with their family.
- The RT regime has been an important and effective one, but we are always striving to see how we can improve.
- Over the years of running the reformative training regime, the Singapore Prison Service (“SPS”) has gained a deeper understanding of evidence-based rehabilitation.
- The proposed changes reflect this deeper understanding, allowing SPS to take on a risk and performance-based approach in determining the intensity of intervention in RTC for the trainee.
- A key feature of the proposed changes is that the minimum detention period for reformative training will be reduced from 18 months, to 6 or 12 months, depending on the intensity of the rehabilitation the offender requires.
- This will be based on the time required for programming to mitigate the risks and address the needs of the RT trainees, according to their profiles.
- The amendments hence allow for a more nuanced assessment of the intensity of rehabilitation required, depending on each individual’s likely response to RT, and level of motivation to change.
- Currently, trainees are already grouped by risk profile and rehabilitation needs, where they undergo rehabilitation in an environment that minimises contamination.
- The new minimum detention periods mean that for some of the trainees, they can be released from detention and placed on supervision as early as the 6-month mark to begin their reintegration into the community.
- Currently, trainees are already provided with opportunities for education and skills training while in detention.
- The new minimum detention periods mean that disruption, if any, to education will be further reduced. For some of the trainees, they can pursue their educational goals on supervision in the community as early as the 6-month mark.
- But despite the changes, it is important to emphasise that the purposes of RT have not changed – it achieves the sentencing objectives of rehabilitation and deterrence.
- It offers the courts an option to rehabilitate the offender in a structured environment while achieving deterrence.
- RT will continue to be the preferred option for cases where the need for rehabilitation corresponds with the need for heightened deterrence
- It should ordinarily be imposed on repeat offenders or for serious offences like drug trafficking.
- Each case should, however, be treated on its own facts and there may be exceptions where RT is unsuitable due to the characteristics of the offender or the heinous nature of the offence committed.
Introducing new procedures to prevent abuse of court process in concluded criminal cases
- The Bills will give the court more control over applications to re-open concluded criminal cases where all appeals have been exhausted (and civil applications that have a similar effect), by codifying the procedure set out by the Court of Appeal in its recent judgments and providing for other aspects of procedure not covered in previous judgments.
- We have looked at the procedure set out by the Court of Appeal, and we agree that it strikes the right balance between preventing miscarriages of justice and the need for finality in criminal proceedings where all appeals have already been exhausted.
Improving the victim compensation order regime
- The courts’ powers to order compensation in the CPC recognises that criminal law is not just about the public’s interests, but also about the interests of individual victims.
- The Ministry of Law has been looking at ways to make the victim compensation regime more effective.
- In 2010, we made it mandatory for the court to consider in every case whether it should order compensation.
- The Bill now goes significantly further –
- First, the court will be required to give reasons if compensation is not awarded, where it has the power to do so.
- Second, victims will be able to participate in the compensation order process by making submissions or giving evidence.
- This is meant for simpler cases – the criminal courts are not equipped to deal with complex hearings usually dealt with by civil courts.
- And, dragging out proceedings to deal with compensation will have a knock-on effect on the court’s ability to deal with other cases.
- Third, the court will be empowered to order compensation of the dependents of a person whose death was caused by an offence, for bereavement and funeral expenses.
- In conclusion, Sir, these amendments, when set against the background of the changes that we have made over the past decade are comprehensive and progressive. They keep pace with the evolving values of society and with international best practices.
- Sir, I beg to move.
“Ministry of Law to review framework for granting bail in wake of Sydney siege”, The Straits Times, 16 December 2014.
“Rebuked lawyer to face Court of 3 Judges”, The Straits Times, 26 October 2017
“The tragic and violent case of Richard Hawkins, his brother and another attack”, Stuff.co.nz, 26 March 2016.
Last updated on 20 Mar 2018