SINGAPORE: A concept paper and draft bill on a framework for plea bargaining is now with the Law Ministry for consideration, said Singapore’s new attorney general, Senior Counsel Steven Chong.
Speaking at the opening of the new legal year, he said the draft legislation was the result of several meetings with stakeholders and study trips to a few countries.
In coming up with the concept paper for plea negotiations, officials from the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) had reworked the lessons from the plea bargaining framework used in foreign jurisdictions.
This is to cater to the features of Singapore’s criminal justice system.
Mr Chong added that another aspect of the criminal justice system which he feels strongly needs to be improved is the working relationship between the AGC and various enforcement agencies.
"I envision a prosecution service which is modern in outlook, progressive in practice, and held in high regard for its fairness and strong commitment to the rule of law," said Mr Chong. "Efficient investigation and timely disposal of cases is an integral part of this vision. Public confidence is vital."
The AGC has launched an initiative to embed Deputy Public Prosecutors (DPPs) in enforcement agencies.
The aim is to bolster the investigative quality of significant cases in the interest of the public and of the suspects, while shortening periods of remand and expediting the prosecution of cases.
Prosecutors will be stationed at enforcement agencies to lend immediate guidance to investigating officers, for instance, regarding the type of forensic evidence which needs to be gathered, and whether statements taken are adequate for the purposes of prosecution.
A pilot project to test these ideas will be targeted in the first half of 2013.
Meanwhile, the Singapore Law Academy celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2013, and Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon said several activities have been planned to commemorate the ocassion.
In July, the academy will provide the public with an insight into the law with a week—long series of law seminars, free legal clinics and an exhibition on Singapore’s legal history.
In October, a charity concert has been planned to showcase the profession’s talents while raising funds for the Yellow Ribbon Project.
CJ Menon added that the academy will also introduce a new and improved LawNet portal by the end of this year.
The most innovative features will include allowing members to access LawNet using their tablet devices.
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