Statement by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, and Second Minister for Law Edwin Tong SC, at the ASEAN-Japan Special Meeting of Justice Ministers Plenary Session 2
6 Jul 2023 Posted in [Speeches]
- Thank you, Madam Co-Chair, and good afternoon, Excellencies.
- Singapore welcomes Japan’s initiative of bringing together relevant organisations, as we seek to implement the ASEAN-Japan Work Plan on Law and Justice. It is very helpful to hear and to consider how ASEAN and Japan can work together with relevant organisations, such as UNDP, UNODC, UNAFEI, and TIJ to implement the Work Plan, by leveraging their knowledge and expertise.
- The Work Plan covers important issues such as the rule of law, dispute resolution and criminal justice, and provides a blueprint for us to focus our efforts on legal cooperation.
Access to Justice
- Our legal systems are not stagnant, and continue to evolve to meet the growing needs of our people.
- Singapore too has been continually reviewing our policies and legislation.
- Allow me to briefly share about what Singapore is doing to strengthen access to justice.
- We strongly believe that access to justice is a key element of and must be at the core of criminal justice systems. If justice is not accessible, then even the best criminal justice system would not serve its purpose.
- Singapore therefore ensures that justice is accessible, especially to vulnerable members of our society, who face the highest risk of being shut out.
- In December last year, we established the Public Defender’s Office. This office provides criminal defence aid to eligible residents who are unable to afford a lawyer due to limited means. The coverage of criminal defence aid has also been expanded from the bottom 25% to the bottom 35% of income percentile of resident households and covers offences in all but 10 Acts.
- The establishment of this office will enable more Singapore residents to qualify for criminal legal aid and representation in Court.
- We look forward to sharing more about Singapore’s experience on strengthening access to justice as well as on other issues.
- We are equally eager to work with and learn from our friends from ASEAN and Japan, as we jointly implement the Work Plan.
- As we commemorate 50 years of friendship between ASEAN and Japan, Singapore hopes that the Work Plan will serve as a guiding light as we embark on the next phase of ASEAN-Japan relations.
- Thank you very much.
Last updated on 10 July 2023