Singapore—Changes to the Criminal Law Reform Act (CLRA), the Penal Code and the Protection from Harassment Act (POHA) will be implemented starting next Wednesday, January 1, 2020.
Under the CRLA, a new offence, “causing or substantially contributing to the risk of a dangerous fire,” was introduced in May. An individual who does something that could start a fire, beginning from the thoughtless act of throwing a lit cigarette end away, could be found guilty and face a prison term of up to seven years, be made to pay a fine, or both.
Significant changes to the Penal Code include the repeal of immunity for marital rape and the decriminalisation of suicide, which will also take effect on January 1.
This was announced in two statements from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Friday (Dec 27). One concerned Causing or Contributing to Risk of Dangerous Fire, and the other statement explained the Amendments to the Penal Code and Other Legislation.
According to the latter statement, “These amendments keep our legislation up-to-date with emerging trends and enhance protection for vulnerable victims.”
This statement includes a section on addressing emergent crime trends due to advances in technology, including voyeurism and the distribution of sexual images without consent. According to amendments to the law, it is now a criminal offense to make, distribute, possess, and have access to voyeuristic recordings or intimate images; as well as distribute or even threat to distribute intimate images or recordings.
There is also a new offence called sexual exposure, which “criminalises the non-consensual exposure of genitals, whether in the physical or the virtual space, such as sending unsolicited images of genitals over an electronic medium to another person (also referred to as ‘cyber-flashing’).”
The amendments to the country’s laws also offer greater protection for vulnerable victims, including those under the age of 14, those who suffer from mental or physical disabilities that prevent them from protecting themselves, as well as domestic helpers.
The statement reads, “Most offences affecting the human body, such as rape, hurt, or wrongful confinement, when committed against persons who are in an intimate relationship or in a close relationship with the offender. The enhancements apply even if the persons are not married.”
The maximum penalties for these offences have been doubled.
Other offences now include the targeting of minors for sexual exploitation, the supply and consumption of child abuse material, and the growing incidents of individuals harassed through doxxing.
“A new offence was introduced to criminalise the publication of personally identifiable information (e.g. photographs, contact numbers, addresses or employment details) with the intention of harassing, threatening or facilitating violence against the person,” the statement said.
The statement from the MHA also included amendments that will take effect at a later date, including raising the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility (MACR). Under the CLRA, the MACR was raised from 7 to 10 years of age. The framework for this implementing this amendment has not yet been finalized. -/TISG