Written Answer by Minister for Law, Mr K Shanmugam, to Parliamentary Question on Reviewing Criminal Sentencing for Sexual Offences
04 Jan 2021 Posted in Parliamentary speeches and responses
Ms Raeesah Khan (Member of Parliament for Seng Kang)
To ask the Minister for Law (a) over the past five years, in how many cases of sexual offences was a victim impact statement adduced by the prosecution to address the sentencing court; and (b) whether the Ministry intends to conduct a review of criminal sentencing for sexual offences and the weight given to the harm suffered by victims.
- In all sexual assault cases, the Prosecution will make sentencing submissions on the harm caused to the victim. These submissions will take into account all the relevant evidence, such as the accounts of the victim and other witnesses, as well as medical and psychological reports.
- In some cases, the Prosecution will additionally tender a victim impact statement (“VIS”) if the Prosecution thinks that this would be of assistance to the Court. Based on available data: a. From 2017 to 2019, a VIS was tendered in 28 State Court cases involving one or more sexual offences. b. From 2015 to 2019, a VIS was tendered in 23 High Court cases involving one or more sexual offences.
- Typically, the impact of the crime on the victim is evident from the evidence put before the Court and the victim’s testimony at trial. The number of cases where a VIS was tendered is therefore not a good indicator of the number of cases where the Courts were aware of the harm suffered by the victims.
- The harm suffered by victims is an important factor in sentencing for sexual offences. The Courts have stressed that every act of rape invariably inflicts immeasurable harm on a victim, and seriously violates the victim’s dignity. In addition, where there are especially serious physical or mental consequences resulting from the rape, such as a psychiatric disorder, or deliberate infliction of special trauma, such as repeated rape during one attack or further degradation of the victim such as forced oral sex, these are taken into consideration as aggravating factors. The Courts have also issued several sentencing frameworks for sexual offences which give significant weight to the harm caused to the victim: the greater the harm caused, the harsher the sentence ought to be.
- As previously indicated, the Ministry of Law and the Ministry of Home Affairs are conducting a review of, among others, the penalties for sexual offences. The outcome of this review will be announced in due course.
Last updated on 04 Jan 2021