Panel set up to monitor probes into Home Team officers

Panel set up to monitor probes into Home Team officers

SINGAPORE - The 19-member Independent Review Panel, set up yesterday, has been formed in the wake of the death of a prison inmate for which a senior prison officer was prosecuted last year, and other high-profile allegations of impropriety by officers, such as those claimed by the bus drivers accused of instigating the SMRT bus strike in 2012.

The panel is chaired by retired Supreme Court judge Goh Joon Seng and is meant to ensure that the Home Team's investigations are thorough and fair, said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

The panel is advisory in nature and reports directly to the Home Affairs Minister, added the ministry. "It is neither an investigation body nor a disciplinary body."

It will look into cases that resulted in death or serious injury, obstructed or perverted the course of justice, or which are of public interest.

Mr Goh, who is also a presidential adviser, said that the panel will work to maintain high public trust and confidence in the Home Team and its officers.

"The Home Team is an institution that Singaporeans trust and depend on to keep us safe and secure," said the veteran lawyer, a consultant with the Lee and Lee law firm. "The Independent Review Panel is fully committed to strengthening the review process."

The panel, announced by Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean at the Committee of Supply debate in Parliament in March, will be appointed for a two-year term.

Nominated MP Eugene Tan had then cited two events that had undermined the image and standing of the Home Team.

One, a seemingly inadequate response by law enforcement bodies during the Little India riot.

The other: the lack of coordination among Home Team agencies when a Malaysian school teacher slipped through Woodlands Checkpoint.

The MHA said that in developing the panel, it had studied models used in other countries which have an independent body to review complaints against law enforcement officers.

The other 18 members of the panel include the former directors of Prisons and the Central Narcotics Bureau and the former chief executives of Tan Tock Seng Hospital and the Health Sciences Authority.

This article was first published on August 2, 2014.
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