Uncovering Miscarriages of Justice

A Case Commentary on Veeramani Manikam v Public Prosecutor [2015] SGHC 201

By Chan Jian Da, Roi Tan Yu Ming, Joel Jaryn Yap Shen

For three years and seven months, Mr Veeramani Manikam (“the accused”) had been in remand in Changi Prison after being sentenced by the District Judge (“DJ”) to a total of 20½ years imprisonment with 20 strokes of the cane. The accused was convicted for importing cannabis under s 7 of the Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185, 2008 Rev Ed) (“MDA”) punishable under s 33(1) of the MDA and possessing Nimetazepam, a “Class C” controlled drug, under s 8(a) of the MDA.

However, on 3rd August 2015, the accused was acquitted after Justice Chan Seng Onn (“Justice Chan”) allowed his appeal in Veeramani Manikam v Public Prosecutor [2015] SGHC 201 (“Veeramani”). The Singapore High Court accepted his account that he had no knowledge about the drugs found in the car he was driving at the time of arrest. Continue reading

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Exclusive Interview with Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Hong Kong, Professor Michael Hor

By Chan Jian Da (Kenneth) and Rebecca Koh

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Innocence Project (Singapore) (“IP(SG)”) members – Chan Jian Da (Kenneth), Abhinav Mohan and Jaryl Lim had the privilege of interviewing Professor Michael Hor, the Dean of University of Hong Kong’s (“HKU”) Faculty of Law.
Continue reading

Silence is Not Golden: Adverse Inferences Drawn From Remaining Silent

By Tan Shi Hui Elena, Loo Tze Ting Dorothy Ann, Lim Min Li Amanda and Tan Pei Wei.

Section 261 of the Criminal Procedure Code gives the Courts the ability to draw adverse inferences from an accused’s failure to mention any fact that he may later rely on for his defence, after he has either been charged or informed that he may be prosecuted for an offence.[1] Such inferences are then “capable of amounting to… corroboration of any evidence given against the accused”.

The prejudicial effect of s 261 stems from the drawing of an adverse inference when the accused person is unfamiliar with the law. To achieve a more holistic understanding of s 261, this article will explore the rationale behind its enactment and analyse the impediments to fairness that have eventuated as a result of its implementation. It is humbly submitted that s 261 is in need of reform in order to better achieve transparency and clarify the lay misconception of what s 261 entails. Continue reading

Innocence Project (Singapore) wins Projects (New initiative) Award at NUS Student Achievement Awards 2015

IMG_3335The National University of Singapore Student Achievement Awards (SAA) is an annual event organised by the Office of Student Affairs (OSA). SAA aims to recognize exception individuals and student groups who have made noteworthy contributions to student life in the university.

We’d like to express our sincerest gratitude to the OSA and the NUS Faculty of Law for their continued support. This award serves as an encouragement for us to work even harder to safeguard against wrongful convictions in Singapore. Continue reading

Righting an injustice Part Three: Getting to know Mr. Mervyn Cheong

mervyn interviewIn September 2013, a student team from the Innocence Project (Singapore) took on the case of Abdul[1], who had been sentenced to imprisonment and caning for unlawful consumption of drugs. The team’s efforts played an integral role in overturning Abdul’s conviction and subsequent discharge amounting to acquittal.

None of this would be possible without the help of the Pro Bono lawyer who took up the case and ultimately worked with the Prosecutors to secure an acquittal. Today we talk with Mr Mervyn Cheong, from Eugene Thuraisingam, to find out more about him, his pro bono experiences and working with the Innocence Project (Singapore).

Today’s article marks the last of this three part series. For more updates from us, please hit the follow button located at the bottom right corner of your screen. We are also delighted to reveal that this case will be covered on a Channel 5 TV series called Verdict, which will be broadcast on 20 Jan 2015 at 10.30pm.  Continue reading

Righting an injustice Part Two: The team shares their thoughts

In September 2013, a student team from the Innocence Project (Singapore) took on the case of Abdul, who had been sentenced to imprisonment and caning for unlawful consumption of drugs. The team’s efforts played an integral role in overturning Abdul’s conviction and subsequent discharge amounting to acquittal.

Every application that the Innocence Project (Singapore) receives is handled by one of our student teams, which conducts a comprehensive investigation including applicant interviews, on-the-ground investigation and legal research. Today, the Investigation team in charge of Abdul’s case, comprising Victor Leong, Ryan Nicholas Hong, Will Jude Vimal Raj and Allison Tan, shares their journey with Innocence Project (Singapore). Continue reading

Righting an injustice: Innocence Project (Singapore)’s first successful case

justified square imageIn September 2013, a student team from the Innocence Project (Singapore) took on the case of Abdul [1], who had been sentenced to imprisonment and caning for unlawful consumption of drugs. The team’s efforts played an integral role in overturning Abdul’s conviction and subsequent discharge amounting to acquittal.

The Innocence Project (Singapore) is a student-led initiative that seeks to provide recourse to individuals who believe they have been wrongfully convicted of crimes. It is a collaborative effort between the National University of Singapore Criminal Justice Club, The Law Society of Singapore and the Association of Criminal Lawyers of Singapore. Members of the Innocence Project (Singapore) review and investigate claims of wrongful convictions, which include conducting interviews with applicants and witnesses, and seeking out evidence to corroborate the testimonies obtained.

In this 3-part special article, we take a look at what happened, and talk to the Innocence Project (Singapore) team behind the investigation as well as the Pro Bono lawyer who took up the case. Continue reading

Plea Bargaining in Singapore: Reaping the Pros & Mitigating the Pitfalls

By Yeoh Jean Ann, Alastair Simon Chetty, Jolin Chen and Toh Ming Min.

Introduction

Lady Justice

Image Credit: Ben Sutherland. Header: Emmanuel Huybrechts. Both licensed under CC BY 3.0 US

In his speech at the Criminal Law Conference 2014, Minister for Law, Mr. K. Shanmugam, stated that his ministry is working on formalising a framework of negotiations between Prosecution and Defence to encourage early case resolution. Mr. Shanmugam described this as ‘plea bargaining’ in plain language, and highlighted the benefits of formalising such a system: transparency in the pre-trial litigation process, better-informed accused persons, and the optimisation of resources.[1]

In anticipation of this formalised framework, this article will examine the rationale behind plea bargaining in criminal justice systems, and its role in Singapore’s legal context. It will also explore the merits and demerits of the American plea bargaining system, discuss the inherent plea bargaining element in the current Singaporean system, and finally, analyse how this vision of a formalised system can work to balance striving towards judicial efficiency with the all-important notions of fairness and justice. Continue reading

The Injustice of Rehabilitation

By Charis Wong, Jaryl Lim Zhi Wei, Mok Ho Fai and Valerie Lew Jia Min.

At the recent Criminal Law Conference 2014, Law Minister K. Shanmugam laid out four fundamental principles that anchor Singapore’s criminal justice system, key among them being that “offenders must be given the opportunity to be rehabilitated and reintegrated into society”. The swath of legislative changes in recent years, in particular, the wider range of sentencing options available today, places a greater emphasis on meaningful reform to the individual rather than being merely punitive in nature. Continue reading