Govt looking if more needs to be done in view of recent constitutional challenge to capital case post-appeal law: Shanmugam

He said it needs to be taken seriously and he looks forward to support from the Parliament.

Julia Yee | May 08, 2024, 06:02 PM



While reiterating Singapore's tough stance on drugs in parliament on May 8, 2024, Minister for Law and Home Affairs K Shanmugam revealed the new law for post-appeal applications in capital cases (PACC applications) will come into effect in a few weeks.

The law passed in 2022 seeks to "deal better with unmeritorious applications being filed at the very last minute" before capital punishment is carried out.

The act, which will come into force in a few weeks, seeks to reduce potential "delays" to court proceedings,

Post-appeal applications

If a prisoner awaiting capital punishment (PACP) already has their sentence upheld by the Court of Appeal, they'll have to apply for permission to make a PACC application.

A "streamlined procedure" allows only the Court of Appeal to hear the applications and grant a stay of execution.

The applicant will be required to state their grounds and reasons for not filing the application earlier.

But even before the law came into force, Shanmugam said 36 PACPs sought to challenge its constitutionality in September 2023.

Their application was dismissed by the Court of Appeal, who said that the prisoners had "no standing" to challenge the court as such.

"The fact that challenge has been brought at all spoke only to the PACP's abuse of the process of the courts," Shanmugam said.

He added that this was not the first time large groups of PACPs have jointly filed applications to the court after all the use of appeal and clemency had been exhausted.

"The PACC act, when it comes into force, will deal with many such applications," Shanmugam stated.

However, he said that the government are now considering what else needs to be done to "properly support" this new law.

"We will come back to the house if necessary," he said.

What do you mean by "come back to the House"?: Singh

Picking up on Shanmugam's concluding remarks, Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh asked for clarifications.

"Is the minister suggesting that there are some gaps in the bill which hasn't even come into force yet, which may require an amendment to the act as it stands?" he probed.

Shanmugam not suggesting that new law has gaps, but there is need to think if more needs to be done

"I wasn't suggesting that there were gaps," Shanmugam replied.

He said that the government has looked at what they "needed to do" and passed the bill.

What he meant, he clarified, was that constitutional challenges might arise when people file their applications.

As such, the government may have to think about curbing these future constitutional challenges.

"We have seen how the applications have evolved and I have directed my ministry to look to see — I've not said there are any gaps — but look to see whether we need to do anything more given in particular that there was a constitutional challenge."

"I look forward to support from Mr Singh if we were to come to that since this is a fight that all of us have to take seriously," Shanmugam told Singh.

Top images via MCI and Unsplash