- Given the police's repeated statements that it does not proactively enforce Section 377A of the Penal Code, exactly how many convictions have there been under it in recent years. Since I received the answer, Alex Au has raised the interesting suggestion that Section 377A is actually being used to prosecute men who abuse male minors.
- Whether the proposals to amend defences and/or raise maximum jail sentences for various offences are justified.
My questions attempted to tease out the information relevant to each area. I will leave it to you to draw your own conclusions about the responses, and the process undertaken by the authorities when formulating the Penal Code amendments. I will only say that when I had previously sought to rely on anecdotal evidence on more than one occasion, that was dismissed as being, well, anecdotal.
21 May 2007
PROSECUTIONS UNDER PENAL CODE
Mr Siew Kum Hong: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs, in each of the last ten years, (a) how many prosecutions and convictions have there been under section 377A of the Penal Code; (b) how many of these prosecutions were police prosecutions; and (c) how many of these police prosecutions were the result of proactive police enforcement.
Mr Wong Kan Seng: The statistics on the number of persons convicted under section 377A (Outrages on decency) of the Penal Code, between 1997 and 2006 is shown below. Prosecution statistics are not available. Police does not proactively enforce the provision.
No. of persons convicted under Section 377A
22 May 2007
SEXUAL OFFENCES WITH MINORS
Mr Siew Kum Hong: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs for each of the last ten years (a) how many cases were investigated by the police involving allegations of sexual intercourse between a female minor and a male who was below the age of 21 years where the male claimed to have reasonable cause to believe that the minor was above (i) 16 years and (ii) 18 years; and (b) of these cases, how many were not the first case against that male.
Mr Wong Kan Seng: Under section 140(5) of the Women's Charter, the presence of reasonable cause to believe that the girl was above the age of 16 years shall be a valid defence on the first occasion on which he is charged with an offence of carnal connection under section 140 (1)(i).
We do not actively track the breakdown of the number of cases where the defence of mistaking the age of the victim was invoked. From anecdotal accounts, it is not common for accused persons to use mistaking the age of victims as a defence for their sexual offences.
(Section 376 of Penal Code)
Mr Siew Kum Hong: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs for each of the last ten years, how many cases were investigated by the police involving allegations of an offence under section 376 of the Penal Code where the person alleged to have committed an offence (i) intentionally deceived the victim as to the nature of the acts in question; and (ii) intentionally induced the victim to consent to those acts by impersonating a person known to the victim.
Mr Wong Kan Seng: Rape cases where deception was used in the course of committing the offence under Section 376 of the Penal Code are not separately noted and recorded. Nevertheless, based on anecdotal accounts, cases where accused persons had intentionally deceived the victims into sexual intercourse or intentionally induced the victims to consent to sexual intercourse by impersonating a person known to the victims, are not common. This is backed by what can be culled from the compilation of facts in the preliminary reports submitted by the Investigation Officers when rape cases are reported.
PROSECUTIONS UNDER PENAL CODE
Mr Siew Kum Hong: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs for each of the last ten years (a) how many convictions were there for offences under section 143 of the Penal Code; and (b) of these, how many were sentenced to imprisonment and how many were sentenced to 5 or more months of imprisonment.
Mr Wong Kan Seng: The number of persons convicted, imprisoned and those who were sentenced to 5 months imprisonment or more under Section 143 (Punishment for unlawful assembly) of the Penal Code, for the last 10 years (1997 to 2006), is provided in the table below.
No. of persons convicted, imprisoned and sentenced to 5 months imprisonment or more under Section 143 of the Penal Code
|No. of persons convicted||571||453||486||254||217||242||347||295||234||272|
|5 months imprisonment or more||24||8||3||15||18||24||30||21||11||3|
PROPOSED PENAL CODE (AMENDMENT) BILL
(Increase in Maximum Sentences)
Mr Siew Kum Hong: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs, in view of the proposed Penal Code (Amendment) Bill issued for public consultation in November 2006 which proposes to increase the maximum sentences for certain offences as set out in the Schedule to the Bill, for each of the last ten years, (a) how many convictions have there been for each of those offences; (b) how many involved sentences of imprisonment; and (d) how many sentences were at 80% or more of the maximum duration of imprisonment permitted.
Mr Wong Kan Seng: The overall aim of the punishment framework is to reduce crime, protect society and maintain law and order. Several factors are taken into account in proposals to increase the maximum imprisonment terms of offences in the Penal Code.
The number and trend of convictions for each offence is only one of these factors. Indeed, this number may fluctuate from year to year in line with the overall crime rates for any particular year.
Also, it is not meaningful to base our decision whether to increase the maximum imprisonment terms on the number of sentences in the past which have hit 80% or more of the maximum sentences. Taking such an approach would disregard the facts and circumstances of the case which the Judge would have taken into account in considering what is the appropriate sentence to be meted out.
Apart from the number and trend of convictions for each offence, the other considerations taken into account in deciding on the maximum sentences are:
a. Punishment should reflect the severity of the offence and serve as a deterrent;
b. The need to maintain proportionality between the offence and the punishment;
c. The type and quantum of punishment should provide sufficient flexibility to our Courts to mete out an appropriate sentence in a particular case, rather than to amend the law to adjust the punishment every now and then;
d. The need to maintain relativity in the punishment for related offences within the Penal Code;
e. The need to maintain relativity in the punishment for similar offences covered under different statutes;
f. The need to retain mandatory minimum punishment and to abolish it where it is no longer necessary to retain them; and
g. The need to reduce the gap between 10 years or life imprisonment for double-limb penalty provisions;
As for the specific details requested for, the Police does not have such ready statistics in the form requested.