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Ensure protection of minors' rights during police investigations

This petition had 1,282 supporters

We, the undersigned, are saddened to hear of the tragic death of 14-year-old Benjamin Lim, who was found dead under his flat on the same day after he was questioned, arrested and released on bail by the police for an alleged outrage of modesty offence.

Benjamin was taken from his school to Ang Mo Kio Police Division Headquarters for questioning by five plainclothes policemen. He was not accompanied by anyone from the school, nor did the police wait until his mother had made her way to the school to see her son.

Benjamin’s case has highlighted the fact that current police protocol does not require minors to be accompanied by a parent, guardian or lawyer during interrogation.

We are encouraged to hear that the police are reviewing their own procedures when it comes to cases involving minors. We would like to express our support for this review, and hope that it will result in minors being accompanied by their legal counsel or at least a trained counsellor during questioning.

We would also like to urge the Singapore government to amend our legislation to provide clear definitions as to the age limits under which one would be considered a child. Under the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC), which Singapore has signed, a child is defined as anyone below the age of 18. Currently, under Singapore law, a child is defined as being below the age of 14, with individuals between the age of 14 and 16 being defined as “young persons”, which is not in line with the definition as set out in the CRC.

We believe that transparency is important when it comes to police investigations, especially when minors are involved. To that end, we support the police’s piloting of video recordings during questioning, and urge Parliament to pass legislation that would require mandatory video recordings of all police interrogations.

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