Modernising our Extradition Regime through the Extradition (Amendment) Bill
07 Mar 2022 Posted in Press releases
- The Ministry of Law (“MinLaw”) introduced the Extradition (Amendment) Bill (the “Bill”) for First Reading in Parliament today.
- The Bill, when passed, will update, and modernise Singapore’s statutory extradition regime, aligning it with other leading common law jurisdictions, and cement Singapore’s role as a responsible global citizen. A modernised regime will strengthen our ability to facilitate extradition where justified, secure the return of fugitives who have committed an offence in Singapore, and ensure appropriate use of limited State resources for extradition.
The key proposed changes to Singapore’s extradition regime are:
(a) Implement the threshold approach for determining extradition offences;
(b) Expand the restrictions on surrender of persons;
(c) Update evidential procedures for extradition proceedings;
(d) Centralise review procedures for extradition proceedings; and
(e) Introduce a mechanism for fugitives to consent to their extradition.
Other changes include:
(a) Collate extradition offences arising from Singapore’s obligations under multilateral conventions; and
(b) Consolidate the provisions on extradition requests for foreign States and declared Commonwealth territories into a single framework.
(a) Implement the threshold approach for determining extradition offences
- Currently, Singapore adopts the list approach, where generally, only offences listed in the First Schedule to the Extradition Act 1968 (the “Act”) are extraditable. Under the modernised extradition regime, the determination of whether an offence is extraditable will use a threshold approach, i.e., an offence is extraditable if it attracts a maximum punishment of two years or any more severe punishment, subject to a list of excluded offences. The threshold approach will bring Singapore in line with jurisdictions such as Australia, Canada, Malaysia and the United Kingdom. It will also make it easier to determine when an offence is extraditable.
(b) Expand the restrictions on surrender of persons
The Bill expands the restrictions on surrendering a requested fugitive, to include, among other things, situations where:
(a) The fugitive was convicted in his/her absence;
(b) The prosecution of the fugitive is barred in the requesting State or territory owing to its limitation period;
(c) The prosecution of the fugitive is for military offences; or
(d) The fugitive only has a short imprisonment term remaining.
- The wider range of restrictions on surrender is aligned with international practice and is commonly found in modern extradition treaties.
(c) Update evidential procedures for extradition proceeding
- Currently, under the Act, in deciding whether a fugitive should be committed to await extradition to the requesting State or territory, the court must consider whether there is sufficient evidence that warrants the extradition of the fugitive. Usually, this evidence is presented by way of affidavits, which can often be voluminous.
- The Bill introduces a record of the case mechanism, which will simplify the procedure for admission of evidence to justify the extradition of a fugitive. A record of the case summarises the evidence acquired by a requesting State or territory in support of its extradition request. It must be certified by a judicial or prosecuting authority of the requesting State or territory. The court retains discretion in determining the weight to be given to the evidence admitted by way of a record of the case. This is only permissible if there is a treaty or arrangement allowing for a record of the case mechanism to be used.
(d) Centralise review procedures for extradition proceedings
- The Bill consolidates the applicable procedures for review of a Magistrate’s order. It incorporates the fugitive’s right, under the Criminal Procedure Code 2010, to apply to the General Division of the High Court (the “High Court”) for an order for review of detention, into the Act instead. In addition, the Bill introduces a new mechanism which allows the Attorney-General to apply to the High Court to review a Magistrate’s decision not to commit a fugitive. Parties may also refer a question of law of public interest, which arose during a review by the High Court, to the Court of Appeal.
(e) Introduce mechanism for fugitives to consent to their extradition
- Currently, the Act does not allow a fugitive to consent to extradition, and all fugitives have to undergo the full extradition proceedings. The Bill introduces a new mechanism for a fugitive to consent to his or her extradition and waive the extradition proceedings. This would save State resources and prevent the fugitive from being detained longer than necessary in Singapore. There will be safeguards – a Magistrate has to ascertain that the fugitive’s consent is voluntary and inform the fugitive of the consequences of consent. This is in line with international practice that permits a fugitive to consent to extradition.
(f) Collate extradition offences arising from Singapore’s obligations under multilateral conventions
- Currently, the Act is not the only statute governing extradition; various other pieces of domestic legislation also contain provisions relating to extradition. These other statutes implement and give effect to the various multilateral conventions which Singapore is party to, including extradition provisions contained in these conventions. Examples of such statutes include the Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act 2002 and Terrorism (Suppression of Bombings) Act 2007, which implement Singapore’s obligations under the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings respectively. The provisions in these other statutes effectively amend the Act to extend its coverage to the additional extradition offences under those multilateral conventions. As a result of this existing practice, the full scope of extradition offences is not readily apparent from the Act alone. The new Fourth Schedule to the Act inserted by the Bill lists the extradition offences—currently found in various statutes—arising from Singapore’s international obligations.
(g) Consolidate the extradition regimes for foreign States and declared Commonwealth territories into a single framework
- The Act currently has two separate frameworks for foreign States and declared Commonwealth territories.
- As the extradition processes for both frameworks are largely similar, the Bill consolidates the provisions on extradition requests to and from all foreign States and declared Commonwealth territories into a single framework.
MINISTRY OF LAW
07 MARCH 2022
Last updated on 7 Mar 2022