Committee to review homicide laws

Changes to homicide laws are under way, with attention given to how to deal with mentally disabled offenders.

Law Minister K. Shanmugam said that a committee - including mental-health experts, judges and lawyers - has been set up to review homicide laws and the treatment of mentally disabled offenders.

Chaired by Senior Minister of State for Law Indranee Rajah, the 18-member committee will consider various issues.

These include the definition of murder and how one should look at murder committed in the course of rape, violent sexual offences, or offences against very young people who are unable to protect themselves.

"We've had a few very bad cases in the last few years. The committee is looking into them as well, as to whether to treat them as a further aggravated condition," said Mr Shanmugam, speaking yesterday at the 2014 Criminal Law Conference, attended by about 500 people.

These included Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, who also gave a speech, and Attorney-General Steven Chong.

The committee, first mentioned during the Committee of Supply debate last year, is expected to make formal recommendations by June.

The formation of the committee is in line with a raft of other "substantial and decisive" changes to Singapore's criminal-justice system over the past few years, said Mr Shanmugam.

Other changes include the setting up of a third law school at SIM University and giving courts more discretion and flexibility in sentencing to "ensure that the appropriate sentence is imposed in each case", he added.

Mr Shanmugam also said that his ministry is working closely with the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) to come up with negotiation guidelines between prosecution and defence to encourage early case resolution.

This, he said, would help to promote greater resource and cost savings, and empower accused persons to make more informed decisions as to how they wish to plead.

The two-day event was jointly organised by the AGC, Association of Criminal Lawyers of Singapore, The Law Society of Singapore and Singapore Academy of Law.

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