Lawyer M Ravi highlights the importance of lawyer’s presence during police’s interview to avoid self-incrimination

In 2016, 14-year-old Benjamin Lim fell to his death from his Yishun flat, hours after returning home from Ang Mo Kio police division for an alleged molestation incident involving an 11-year-old girl in a lift.

The North View Secondary School student was brought to the police station by police officers for his statement to be taken and released to his mother after being questioned by the police for three and a half hours, without the presence of a lawyer or accompanied by any adult.

As expected, the case sparked a debate on police processes and speculation over the circumstances leading up to his death. In fact, many instances of what happened before his death also emerged, causing the Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam to take the rather unusual step of delivering a ministerial statement on the issue in Parliament in March 2016.

In August that year, State Coroner Marvin Bay ruled that the teenager’s death was a deliberate act of suicide that could have occurred probably from issues with managing his anger and emotions, as well as stress of being under criminal investigations.

Using this case as an example, international human rights lawyer M Ravi released a video on his personal video channel, RAVIsion, calling for the presence of a lawyer for witnesses and suspects during police interviews and interrogations, and highlighting citizens’ right against self-incrimination.

“Singaporeans have a legal right to not incriminate themselves during police interviews and interrogations. However, if they exercise this right, they may land in deeper trouble in court during trial. So, what is the point of having the right to not incriminate yourself then?” asked the lawyer in his video.

Introduction of “Appropriate Adult Scheme for Young Adults” (AAYS)
At the end of Coroner’s inquiry for Benjamin’s case, it was reported in the ST that “State Coroner Marvin Bay said the police and his school had taken steps to engage him sensitively”, as they found out that the teenager was not accompanied by any adult during the interview.

However, Mr Bay’s report noted that an “additional refinement could be for a school counsellor to accompany the student to the police station”.

Based on this suggestion, a year after Benjamin’s death, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) announced a pilot project, the “Appropriate Adult Scheme for Young Adults” (AAYS) which was rolled out at the Criminal Investigation Department, Bedok Police Division and the Central Narcotics Bureau’s Investigation Division.

Under the scheme, an independent and trained adult will have to accompany a young suspect under the age of 16 to law enforcement interviews. The website for National Council of Social Service explained that the “appropriate adult” should also be “a neutral party that provides emotional support to the young suspect and facilitates communications where necessary”.

The scheme is expected to be completed in mid-2019.

The volunteer, also called the Appropriate Adults (AAs), is expected to look out for signs of distress, aid communication between the young suspect under the age of 16 and the police when necessary, as well as provide emotional support. One has to note that the AA, receives only half a day of briefing before they are considered as trained for the job. The AAs are also instructed to remain neutral and not advocate for the young suspect, nor provide legal advice or disrupt the course of justice in any way, they also cannot be lawyers by profession.

This means that the AA is not a substitute for legal advice or legal counsel.

If that is not all, the AAYS does not include the parent of the youth or minor, meaning they’re left to be accompanied by strangers. This scheme only applies to those below 16 years of age, and adult suspects will not be given such opportunity or access to lawyers during their talks and interrogations with the police.

Call for the right to counsel and the right against self-incrimination
As revealed in the testimony by the police officer who took Benjamin’s statement at the coroner’s hearing, Benjamin admitted that he touched a part of a girl’s body, and he did so intentionally.

As such, Mr Ravi told in his video that if a lawyer was present during his interrogation, he or she may have advised Benjamin on his right not to incriminate himself.

“My intention in raising the Benjamin Lim incident is not to cast aspersions in any way, but to point out that there could potentially be real life consequences of not having immediate access to counsel, and thus not knowing what your legal rights are during such times,” he said.

He added, “How many of us know that we have the right not to incriminate ourselves? Even if we do, do we even know what exactly would be incriminating and consequences of exercising this right?”

Despite having the rights to not self-incriminate, under Section 261 (1) of the Criminal Procedure Code, an adverse inference can be made against you if you bring up your right not to incriminate yourself and remain silent during police questioning.

As such, the lawyer argues that an average person who is not legally trained would not know “what information may incriminate him or her, and indeed what is meant by incriminating evidence or information”.

If that is not all, the police in the country is also not obliged to inform those called for questioning or interrogation that they have the right to not incriminate themselves.

“This is precisely why it is of utmost necessity if we are to give meaning to our legal rights, that witnesses and suspects have access to lawyer during police interviews. Their lawyers can then advise them so that they do not incriminate themselves,” he stressed.

To make things worse, one can be convicted solely based on his or her statement, without presenting any evidence to support the statement, said Mr Ravi. He also mentioned that although the police have to charge a suspect within 48 hours of arrest, but they can detain the individual for a “reasonable” period of time without a lawyer. Unfortunately, this “reasonable” period of time is not defined or specified in Singapore’s law and is left for the police to decide, said the lawyer.

“In short, you have the right not to incriminate yourself but it can be a major disadvantage for you to exercise it. So as you can see, we do need serious reforms in this area to protect and give meaning to what is guaranteed by the Constitution,” Mr Ravi pointed out.

He also noted that the right not to incriminate yourself is a basic right that is practiced around the world. It is also a “right to protect an accuse from police abuse and coercion”, he added.

As such, the lawyer emphasised the importance of reforms in the law since Singaporean police “have almost unrestricted powers of investigation and interrogation”.

“The right not to incriminate yourself, which include remaining silent during police questioning, reinforces the universal principal of justice – which is the right of an individual to be presumed innocent,” Mr Ravi said in the end of his video.

 

* Article first appeared on The Online Citizen.

 

 

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20 Responses to “Lawyer M Ravi highlights the importance of lawyer’s presence during police’s interview to avoid self-incrimination”

  • patriot of TUMASIK:

    Only an Evil Dynasty created by an “Evil Bastard”… can come up with the Evil Scheme of NO Representation of legal presence and NO Defence of Rights and be locked UP for Decades

    Retribution & Karma…will face all who ADHERE to a bast**d’s Evil Scheme!!!

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  • Harder Truths:

    I admire and respect your fortitude and courage in trying to represent $G citizens under such harsh and inhumane conditions.

    Just remember – the majority of $G citizens are a vicious lot and will not help you or support you once they feel you are no more use to them.
    You will be left to your own devices to survive.

    This is the reality of life in $G. Plan accordingly. God Bless You.

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  • Realistically:

    https://sg.theasianparent.com/abused-in-childcare-in-singapore
    Little girl allegedly abused in Singapore childcare, mum pleads for justice
    15 Aug, 2019
    In a heartfelt post, a mum has shared how her 6-year-old daughter was allegedly abused in childcare in Singapore, and yet, no action has been taken by the authorities, even though the incident was reported more than a year back.
    “I am taught since young to have faith in our police force, in our legal system. Today, all my faith is gone…”
    “Sorry Haley, Mummy failed to protect you and failed to get justice for you,” she writes.
    Little girl allegedly abused in childcare in Singapore
    In her Facebook post on 14 August 2019, Singapore mum Polly Low says that her daughter had got physically abused in her childcare in July 2018, and a police report was made back then.
    The mummy had also posted about the incident on social media in early 2019.
    She reveals that, “In March, 8 months after my gal got beaten up, police finally engaged a psychologist to interview my gal, as she has speech delay…she was asked to draw out the events instead.”
    The mummy wasn’t allowed to enter the interview room, and waited outside for 2 hours.
    “The SIO and psychologist showed me the drawings of what my girl drew… she drew herself crying…she drew where the teacher had beaten her… she drew the teacher’s angry face.. she drew her classmates’ smiling faces. It Broke my heart.”
    But what really shocked this mum is the confirmation that the case has been closed.
    “The police just called. They said no further action will be taken to anyone…in short, case closed.”
    “Whatever my gal drew… whatever pain was inflicted on her.. .whatever mental trauma she went through, whatever injury she had, it doesn’t matter to the legal system. The teacher will probably be teaching somewhere else… she will probably live her life as it was before.”
    “A puppy abuse case.. even got a verdict. A child abuse case, NOTHING.”
    “I am taught since young to have faith in our police force, in our legal system. Today , all my faith is gone. Sorry Haley, Mummy failed to protect you and failed to get justice for u.”
    “Friends.. do help me to viral this post and share…”
    Polly has also shared pictures she had taken of her child’s bruises and wounds.

    Mum of abused child speaks to theAsianparent
    theAsianparent contacted Ms Polly Low, and she tells us that the abuse happened when her daughter was 5 years 11 months old. The child suffers from global developmental delay, and the childcare (which is a private Montessori school in Hougang) was well aware of her condition.
    “My daughter has been attending the same childcare since she was 3 to 4 yrs old. The cc is aware that on certain days she has to attend therapies in KKH, hence she was usually bought hom

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  • TruBlu:

    Ravi is full of gumption unlike some scholarly weaklings like PAPER-GENERALS.
    Ravi is a real LION,tenacious and brave.

    Police shud protect the WEAK AGAINST THE EVILS OF THE PIWERFUL N RICH.
    BUT IS THIS THE CASE?

    CAN WE HAVE GOOD POLICE OFFICERS again?

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  • George:

    Khaw BW and Tan CJ do not care for the rights of Singaporeans, VOTE THEM OUT !

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  • Question for Ravi:

    Dear Ravi

    Nice to see you back as Lawyer fighting for Singaporeans and the poor.

    Without JBJ , you are the next best thing we have.

    I have posted some tough questions to all Alternative Parties but they have not responded to any. I suspect it’s too tough a question for them to address.

    Here they are :

    1. POFMA :

    The act comprises jurisdiction on WhatsApp messages. But how is this achievable in reality, technically speaking?
    We know e-commerce and bank transfers via our phones is not possible without solid encryption technologies. WhatsApp uses the best encryption there is for messaging. State-of-the-art.

    It’s hackable by supercomputers but this will take too much time for it to be practically feasible.

    My point is, what is meant by the act allowing access to our WhatsApp?

    Then I found a news released by Kaspersky that a Singapore company had paid to a Malware company for product called FINSPY which allows for snooping WhatsApp messages. So, this means Decryption is unnecessary as the malware access from within the phone. This is my opinion.

    So, why POFMA when already existing laws are more than sufficient ? Does it serve to Strike more FEAR in sharing and forwarding WhatsApp messages?

    Or does this act have any iota to do with use of FINSPY? I have no idea at all. This is why I asking.

    Does the act legalise any use of any means to access our WhatsApp ?

    2. Is existing ELECTION PROCESS absolutely untamperable in anyway whatsoever ? If so, how is this scientifically provable?

    Would be glad to hear from you your views on any of the above. As said , SDP, PSP, PVP all declined to respond to my absolutely positively pertinent and logical questions. I am forced by them to confront to the question of whether these Alternative leaders have what it takes to ask the toughest questions when given a seat in parliament given their No response
    to such questions?

    This experience I have with these prominent alternative parties give me hope that they will be as effectiveness and timid as WP when they win seat in parliament.

    Are we a nation of Turkeys and Ostriches or a land of the Brave Lions?
    The answer lies in all of us.

    Yours sincerely
    Chief Executioner
    Turkeys & Ostriches Butchery

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  • Realistically:

    So where is Tan Kin Lian who had previously said he had confidence in the police & justice system?

    Maybe he should offer the mother mentioned in the article his advice.

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  • Realistically:

    Just google the topic: is whatsapp vulnerability to snooping on encrypted messages and the link shows:

    https://www.google.com/search?q=is+whatsapp+vulnerability+to+snooping+on+encrypted+messages&oq=Is+Whatsapp+vulnerable+to+snooping&aqs=chrome.1.69i57j33.36457j0j4&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

    You can click on any of the URL listed.

    The answer is YES….your WhatsApp msg can be read by those with the Israeli programme called Pegasus.

    Even the S’pore Business Times carried the news:
    https://www.businesstimes.com.sg › technology › whatsapps-end-to-end-en..

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  • Expose WP:

    Realistically:
    Just google the topic: is whatsapp vulnerability to snooping on encrypted messages and the link shows:

    https://www.google.com/search?q=is+whatsapp+vulnerability+to+snooping+on+encrypted+messages&oq=Is+Whatsapp+vulnerable+to+snooping&aqs=chrome.1.69i57j33.36457j0j4&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

    You can click on any of the URL listed.

    The answer is YES….your WhatsApp msg can be read by those with the Israeli programme called Pegasus.

    Even the S’pore Business Times carried the news:
    https://www.businesstimes.com.sg › technology › whatsapps-end-to-end-en..

    But is pofma in any way legitimising the hacking or snooping? While we all have our answers, what I am trying to do is confront the question WHY WP NEVER RAISE TYESE QUESTIONS? See, we have our answers but the answer has to come from the horse’s mouth as anything else is our opinion only.

    I will keep pointing out where WP has failed to raise pertinent questions . I want to expose the wayang party.

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  • oxygen:

    @ Expose WP

    WP MPs (and some NMPs)unanimously voted against POFMA.

    Expose WP: But is pofma in any way legitimising the hacking or snooping? While we all have our answers, what I am trying to do is confront the question WHY WP NEVER RAISE TYESE QUESTIONS? See, we have our answers but the answer has to come from the horse’s mouth as anything else is our opinion only.

    I will keep pointing out where WP has failed to raise pertinent questions . I want to expose the wayang party.

    Remember PAPpolitics’s modus operandi? State secret or it is not in our interest to tell you the answer?

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  • Realistically:

    @ Expose WP:
    August 27, 2019 at 8:42 am

    “But is pofma in any way legitimising the hacking or snooping?”

    Neither. It is probably considered as “hacking” with the Govt. impervious to any legal consequences, because any complainant cannot prove that his WhatsApp msg has been “hacked”. It is probably “snooping” but would be illegal if anyone else does that.

    “WHY WP NEVER RAISE TYESE QUESTIONS?”

    You hv to question the wayang party’s MP directly.

    What the wayang party MPs failed to do is to question the REAL need for POFMA and to have DEBATED on what Minister in Charge of the Civil Service, Chan Chun Sing, who is also the Trade & Industry Minister, had said in his speech at an Administration Service function on 16 April 2019 wherein he talked about INTEGRITY of the PUBLIC SERVICE at this link:

    https://www.gov.sg/~/sgpcmedia/media_releases/pmo-psd/speech/S-20190416-2/attachment/ASD%202019%20Minister%20Chan%20Speech.pdf

    Read paragraph no. 38.

    The wayang party MP should have asked Minister Chan is public service included the judiciary.

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  • Realistically:

    @ oxygen:
    August 28, 2019 at 9:03 am (Quote)

    “WP MPs (and some NMPs)unanimously voted against POFMA.”

    Mere “opposing” is a no-brainer.

    What a true opposition MP should have asked are what I hv posted in reply to Expose WP as follows:

    What the wayang party MPs failed to do is to question the REAL need for POFMA and to have DEBATED on what Minister in Charge of the Civil Service, Chan Chun Sing, who is also the Trade & Industry Minister, had said in his speech at an Administration Service function on 16 April 2019 wherein he talked about INTEGRITY of the PUBLIC SERVICE at this link:

    https://www.gov.sg/~/sgpcmedia/media_releases/pmo-psd/speech/S-20190416-2/attachment/ASD%202019%20Minister%20Chan%20Speech.pdf

    Read paragraph no. 38.

    The wayang party MP should have asked Minister Chan is public service included the judiciary.

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  • Realistically:

    The last sentence in my comment:

    The wayang party MP should have asked Minister Chan is public service included the judiciary.

    Should have been:

    The wayang party MP should have asked Minister Chan IF public service included the judiciary

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  • oxygen:

    @ Realistically

    THAT IS WIDELY AND already HOTLY DEBATED IN THE SOCIAL MEDIA, why is it necessary for WP to reinvent the same wheel inside Parly?

    Realistically: What the wayang party MPs failed to do is to question the REAL need for POFM

    For drama theatre or what??

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  • Well Educated fools:

    The well Educated fools think that by keeping status quo, the policies will change by themselves and the miw will be forced to do better and be more transparent, accountable and independent.

    This proves how stupid these are.

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  • Realistically:

    @ oxygen:
    August 30, 2019 at 11:59 pm (Quote)
    @ Realistically

    “THAT IS WIDELY AND already HOTLY DEBATED IN THE SOCIAL MEDIA, why is it necessary for WP to reinvent the same wheel inside Parly?”

    So the wayang party MPs are FREE LOADING?

    What are they being paid MP allowance of $16k a month for? Just to cast a NO vote?

    “For drama theatre or what??”

    For justice and fair play. How pathetic you are to defend the good for nothing but s*ake oil politics to the detriment of the country & sinkies.

    That’s why I hv said that the wayang party should be put into oblivion and I strongly urge the SDP to contest all the eastern constituencies the wayang party has been present…………to stop all this ROT of the wayang party being in what I see is cahoots with the whites.

    PATHETIC

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  • oxygen:

    @ Realistically

    MATE, YOU ARE STANDING TOO CLOSE TO THE TREE to discover the forest.

    Realistically: “THAT IS WIDELY AND already HOTLY DEBATED IN THE SOCIAL MEDIA, why is it necessary for WP to reinvent the same wheel inside Parly?”

    So the wayang party MPs are FREE LOADING?

    What are they being paid MP allowance of $16k a month for? Just to cast a NO vote?

    “For drama theatre or what??”

    For justice and fair play. How pathetic you are to defend the good for nothing but s*ake oil politics to the detriment of the country & sinkies.

    THERE IS NO FREELOADING except existing in your mind, regretfully. Parliamentary time is constrained by incumbency politics. And questions submitted for debate is SUBJECT TO BALLOTING.

    All the PAPpypolitics has to do is to get their “backbenchers” or “pretenders” to flood the question box with loads of irrelevant trivialities to crowded out WP’s questions chance of getting it selected and presented to parliament.

    If each MP is allow a max of 10 questions, PAPpys can submit 820 question and WP can submit 60(???), their questions got less than 10% chances of airing.

    AND GIVEN BREAD AND BUTTER ISSUES RAISED BY CONSTITUENTS FOR AIRING, WHAT CHOICES DOES WP GOT OF AIRING between welfare or those other issues of POFMA already debated intensely in social media?

    Which is why I said these.

    oxygen: THAT IS WIDELY AND already HOTLY DEBATED IN THE SOCIAL MEDIA, why is it necessary for WP to reinvent the same wheel inside Parly?

    For drama theatre or what??

    and this

    oxygen: Remember PAPpolitics’s modus operandi? State secret or it is not in our interest to tell you the answer?

    IN POLITICS WE NEED BOTH SWORD AND SHIELD – WP AND SDP AND OTHER OPPIES NEED OUR SUPPORT.

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  • Realistically:

    @ oxygen:
    September 1, 2019 at 12:31 pm

    I dun wanna waste time engaging in a shameless commenter like u with no dignity and credibility, much like all those wayang party MPs. I just repost my comments from the other thread:

    http://www.tremeritus.net/2019/08/27/target-met-for-funding-required-for-court-of-appeal/

    Realistically:
    September 1, 2019 at 10:57 pm (Quote)
    @ Absolute Power Corrupts:
    September 1, 2019 at 11:52 am

    “If what shittytimes quoted rightly, as below, then what Sylvia Lim said is about national sovereignty, not about Pappies.”

    Not sure what u r toking about…….”national sovereignty”?

    How does that come into the picture regarding Sylvia Lim’s DEFENSE of the PAPies at the International Bar Association meeting in S’pore?

    Or r u saying that we should disregard the Privy Council (& all those ENGLISH case laws) and or that Singapore’s judiciary are up to the level of the English judiciary?

    If you r trying to defend the wayang party, sorry, you hv failed. If not then what’s the point u r trying to make?

    I think people would know from what I’ve commented in different threads that I am not ignorant of what’s going on with Singapore, the PAPies and the wayang party MPs who are derilict in their duties and responsibilities as MPs………….they should have returned all the MP allowances since they stepped in Parliament.

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  • Realistically:

    @ oxygen:
    September 1, 2019 at 12:31 pm

    “IN POLITICS WE NEED BOTH SWORD AND SHIELD – WP AND SDP AND OTHER OPPIES NEED OUR SUPPORT.”

    Dun spill your wayang party s*ake oil filth to deceive sinkies……….the wayang party has NEVER been an Opposition party since JBJ left.

    I hv also commented that the wayang party would form a coalition with the PAPies if there is a hung Parliament…………NOT with other genuine opposition like the SDP, Progress Singapore Party under Dr Tan Cheng Bock etc

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  • oxygen:

    @ Realistically

    YOU ARE JUST A MONGREL SPOUTING hate and irrelevance.

    Realistically: I dun wanna waste time engaging in a shameless commenter like u with no dignity and credibility,

    Your ignorance is keenly displayed here.

    Realistically: How does that come into the picture regarding Sylvia Lim’s DEFENSE of the PAPies at the International Bar Association meeting in S’pore?

    Or r u saying that we should disregard the Privy Council (& all those ENGLISH case laws) and or that Singapore’s judiciary are up to the level of the English judiciary?

    If you r trying to defend the wayang party, sorry, you hv failed. If not then what’s the point u r trying to make?

    I saw that thread BUT DECLINE TO SINK INTO THE MUD OF IGNORANCE UNLIKE YOU.

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