12 Mar 2012, 5.54PM
Media reports of foreigners embroiled in assault cases in Singapore have sparked discussion on REACH. Several contributors
express outrage and wonder if there are sufficiently stringent laws in place for foreigners who commit assault.
More recently, the assault at Suntec City
by three foreigners on a Singaporean in April 2010 have gained public attention, as two of the accused have jumped bail.
MP for Marine Parade GRC, Ms Tin Pei Ling, brought the issue to Parliament on 8 March. She enquired on the standard operating procedures for foreigners accused of a crime, the measures to prevent foreigners from fleeing jurisdiction and the criteria for assessment of extradition proceedings against these foreigners. She also sought an update on the date of completion of the police inquiry into the Suntec City assault case.
We bring to you the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs, Mr Teo Chee Hean’s response
to her queries in Parliament.
DPM Teo’s oral answer to Parliamentary question on Suntec City assault case
- The Police are conducting an internal inquiry to establish the full facts of how the Suntec case was handled. If there were any lapses or negligence, Police will take appropriate disciplinary action against the officers involved. We expect the internal inquiry to be completed next month (i.e. April 2012).
- Warrants of arrest have been issued against Robert Stephen Dahlberg and Robert James Springall, the two accused persons who absconded while on bail. Police will work closely with INTERPOL and its overseas counterparts to locate the two men and bring them back to face the charges that have been laid against them.
- On the broader question of how foreigners who have been suspected of, or accused of violating the law are dealt with, under our laws, all accused persons are treated in the same way, regardless of whether they are Singaporeans or foreigners. As set out in the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), there is a standard set of procedures for the handling of accused persons, whatever their nationality, from arrest, to investigation, to charging them in court, and to police bail.
- During investigations, the CPC gives Police the powers to ask an accused person to surrender his passport as a condition of bail or personal bond. For accused persons who are assessed to be a flight risk, Police will set the bail or bond, commonly referred to as “police bail”, at a higher amount. This is during the investigation phase. Flight risk is assessed holistically, taking into account multiple factors such as whether the accused person has roots in Singapore and the extent of these roots, the gravity of the offence, the behaviour of the accused person in the course of investigations and whether the person had attempted to abscond previously.
- Once a person is charged in Court, discretion on whether to release the accused person on bail, as well as the conditions of bail, is with the Courts. This is commonly known as “court bail”. In situations where the accused person is a likely flight risk, Police would flag this out and request the Courts to set bail at a higher amount. Police may also request that the passport of the accused person be impounded as a condition of bail.
- The Courts would consider each case on its own merits, weighing the arguments by the defence and the prosecution and assessing the risk factors in determining the flight risk of the accused person. The Courts will make the decision on bail quantum and conditions after considering representations by all parties.
- If a wanted person who has fled abroad has been located, whether extradition proceedings will be initiated against him depends on several factors, including whether we have an extradition treaty or extradition arrangement with the country that the person has fled to, and whether the offence committed by the person is an extraditable offence. Police will take all steps to obtain the return of those who have absconded, to the fullest extent legally possible.