The Criminal Justice Conference 2017 was held on 25 August 2017 at the NUS Law Moot Court. This year’s iteration of the conference took participants behind the scenes to find out what the Singapore Police Force, Prosecution and Defence do after a crime is committed.
To give the audience a holistic picture, we invited 3 speakers represent the three key players in the Criminal Justice system — the Police, the Prosecution, and the Defence. DSP Roy Lim from the Special Investigation Section (SIS) kick-started the event with tales of murder cases involving severed body parts. He captivated the audience’s attention by sharing with us the twist and turns in his investigation. Contrary to the depictions in popular shows like CSI, what would happen behind the scene takes time and sheer hard work. The Police needs an eye for details to recall and recover any scrap of evidence. In a CCTV footage where the suspects were mere silhouettes, they could distil information such as their height. Even things as small as the serial numbers on the plastic bags can contribute to the overall picture, leading them to a solution that brings justice to the victim’s families.
Taking over the baton from the Police, the Prosecution presented their case, represented by Senior Counsel and Deputy Chief Prosecutor Francis Ng. DCP Francis Ng shared with everyone what happens once the case file is presented to the Prosecution. DCP Ng highlighted the importance of evidence and gave the audience a glimpse into some of the memorable cases he handled.
Last but definitely not the least, the Defence, represented by Mr Sunil Sudheesan gave everyone an overview of what a defence lawyer does and shared some of the difficulties faced by a defence counsel. Mr Sudheesan also shed light on certain procedures such as an accused’s access to counsel and the bargaining process.
While the memories from the presentations were fresh on the audience’s minds, we went straight into a panel discussion, consisting of 5 representatives from both the Prosecution and Defence which included our Presenters, Mr Ng Shi Yang and Ms Sherrie Han from the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme (CLAS), and Senior State Counsel and Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Zhongshan. With the help of our own Professor Alan Tan as the moderator, the discussion was enlivened with exchanges of diverse view. The panellists expressed their diverging views with regard to the changes in our Criminal Justice System, but they were nevertheless professional and respectful of differing opinions. Some of the topics that were explored included the video taping of suspects and the Certificate of Substantive Assistance awarded by the Prosecution in drug trafficking cases. We incorporated an interactive element, where audience members were free to raise their views or ask the panel questions. The panel did not shy away from dealing with the controversies, leaving the audience with a renewed understanding of both sides of the story.
Needless to say, it was an interesting and enriching event. The Criminal Justice Club would like to thank all our speakers and panellists for their support and for coming down to share their thoughts and experiences with us. We would also like to thank our participants for attending the event and we hope to see you at our next event!
Written by: CJC
Photo Credits: Joelle Loy