10 Jul 2012, 6.17PM
Addressing Parliament yesterday, Law Minister K. Shanmugam, announced the proposed changes in respect of how the mandatory death penalty applies to homicide cases amounting to murder.
In a departure from the mandatory death sentences for murder, he said the government intends for capital punishment to apply only in murders where there is an intention to kill. Offenders who intend the death of their victims ought to be punished with the most severe penalty, and the law ought to provide the most powerful deterrent against such offences.
For other categories of murder, which could be committed with different degrees of intention and under a variety of situations, the courts will have the discretion to mete out either the death penalty or a life sentence.
Minister Shanmugam said that the proposed change will ensure that our sentencing framework properly balances the various objectives – justice to the victim, justice to the accused and mercy in appropriate cases. He added that the approach being taken is not without risks, but it is a step that Singapore can take, given the country’s low incidence of homicide. Last year, there were 16 recorded homicides, or about 0.3 per 100,000 people.
The draft legislation implementing the changes will be put in place later this year. Then, all accused persons who meet the requirements can elect to be considered for re-sentencing under the new law. This will involve accused persons in ongoing cases, as well as convicted persons.
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