In wide-ranging changes proposed to make criminal procedures fairer and more transparent in Singapore, crime suspects will be video recorded when they have their statements taken by the police.
In a press statement issued by the Ministry of Law said, “Under this proposal, investigators will be allowed to take statements from witnesses via video recording. Video recording will allow the court to more effectively determine voluntariness and weight of the statements by showing the flow of the interview and the demeanour of the interviewer and interviewee.”
The Ministry of Law (MinLaw) of Singapore has announced today 50 proposed amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) and Evidence Act.
It added, “Video-recorded statements of certain witnesses, such as complainants in serious sexual offences, can also be used in place of their oral evidence-in-chief. This will help minimise the trauma they face in repeatedly recounting their ordeal.”
“While video recording will not completely eliminate the possibility of a suspect’s statement being obtained by threat, inducement or promise, it will enable the court to quickly adjudicate on voluntariness and weight,” said the ministry.
The technique of video recording during investigations is currently in place in Australia, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom and the United States. This issue had been debated publicly on several occasions in Singapore, most recently following the suicide of teenager Benjamin Lim in January last year.
The 14-year-old boy fell to his death hours after he was questioned by police over an alleged molestation. The incident sparked widespread discussion, with members of public and several Members of Parliament questioning if the current protocol for police interviews of young people could be enhanced.
Video recording may deter police officers from adopting questionable practices. It could also help cut down costs and the length of a court trial, as well as offer protection to law enforcement officers, other proponents have argued.
People of Singapore can provide feedback on video recording of interviews and other proposed amendments via post or email from now till August 24.