IT’S ABOUT TIME

Written by Lim Jin Jie

Hmm..what’s about time?

In a slew of changes, many highly-anticipated changes to the Singapore Penal Code were proposed through the Criminal Law Reform Bill, which was first read on Monday (11 Feb).

These changes were raised after the Penal Code Review Committee (PCRC) completed its two-year review of the laws. Feedback was gathered from more than 700 stakeholders from various sectors, and the changes aim to enhance protection of vulnerable victims, as well as update the penal code to tackle emerging crime trends.

 

So…what changed?

Well, there are quite a few changes. Firstly, the G took in the suggestion to decriminalise attempted suicide, while still maintaining the criminalisation of the abetment of attempted suicide (I.e. euthanasia is still seen as a crime). This is in line with most respondents to the recommendations, who felt that people who attempt suicide need help rather than punishment.

Secondly, marital immunity for rape is also set to be repealed. This meant that husbands who force themselves on their wives will be liable for a crime in the future. This would ensure that all women are protected from sexual abuse.

The definition of rape will also be expanded to include situations other than “any man who penetrates the vagina of a woman with his penis”, for example in situations where a woman forces a man to penetrate her.

The last big change is aimed at protecting the vulnerable. Originally only referring to maids and people with physical and mental disabilities, the expanded definition now includes children under the age of 14, and those with close or intimate relationships with their offenders. Offenders who commit crimes against the vulnerable could face up to twice the maximum punishment for similar crimes – up from the current 1.5 times of the maximum punishment.

All in all, these long-anticipated changes are definitely welcomed and will go a long way in protecting the vulnerable from the clutches of the wicked.

 

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