Ministry of Law's Response to ST Forum Letter: Gag Orders Imposed Consistently - To Protect Alleged Victims
We refer to the letter by Dr Yik Keng Yeong (“Why no gag order on identity of doctors in sex offence cases?”, ST, 5 Sep, p B8), in which he states that there is an apparent bias against doctors in the imposition of gag orders by the courts.
The purpose of a gag order is to protect the identity of the alleged victim so as to avoid or minimise further trauma to him or her. The gag order only extends to protection of the name of the accused in cases where revealing the name of the accused could lead to the identification of the alleged victim, for example, where the alleged victim and accused are related, or are otherwise closely connected.
Our legal system operates on the principle of open justice. This means that accused persons are publicly tried, and their identities are not protected except in narrow exceptions where it could lead to the identification of an alleged victim and cause re-victimisation by unnecessary publicity.
This principle applies whether the accused is a doctor, or any other person. Contrary to what Dr Yik has said, there is no bias against doctors, whether apparent or real.
Andrea Goh (Ms)
Director, Corporate Communications Division, Ministry of Law