SIN­GA­PORE MULLS HARSHER PENAL­TIES

On­line pe­ti­tion draws more than 28,000 sig­na­tures

New Straits Times - - World -

SIN­GA­PORE is con­sid­er­ing harsher pun­ish­ments for sex of­fences against mi­nors, the law min­is­ter said, af­ter a United States mar­tial arts in­struc­tor was jailed for four years for hav­ing con­sen­sual sex with two 15-year-olds, prompt­ing a rare pub­lic out­cry.

Con­sen­sual sex­ual in­ter­course with mi­nors of 14 and above car­ries a max­i­mum jail term of 10 years or fine or both in Sin­ga­pore.

The le­gal age of con­sent is 16. Joshua Robin­son, 39, was con­victed last week of the sex acts, which he had filmed, and for show­ing child pornog­ra­phy to a 6-year-old.

Pros­e­cu­tors had asked for a sen­tence of four to five years and a S$20,000 (RM63,000) fine. They said they were not plan­ning to ap­peal.

“I have asked my of­fi­cials to con­sider what ap­proaches are nec­es­sary for of­fend­ers like Robin­son to be dealt with more se­verely through higher penal­ties,” Law and Home Af­fairs Min­is­ter K. Shan­mugam said on Wed­nes­day.

Shan­mugam added that he could “un­der­stand that hav­ing taken a po­si­tion in court... it is dif­fi­cult for A-GC (At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Cham­bers) to now ap­peal.”

An on­line pe­ti­tion on www.change.org call­ing for a “harsher sen­tence in Sin­ga­pore for paedophile Joshua Robin­son” drew more than 28,000 sig­na­tures.

Pe­ti­tions are rare in Sin­ga­pore where state in­sti­tu­tions ben­e­fit from strong pub­lic sup­port.

“Wow... 4 years of jail with­out can­ing for a paedophile?!” said the pe­ti­tion started by Sarah Woon, a friend of a woman whose daugh­ter was shown porno­graphic films by Robin­son.

Robin­son’s lawyer, Mervyn Tan, de­clined to com­ment on the case be­fore March 15, when the dead­line for an ap­peal ex­pires.

Last year, par­lia­ment passed a con­tro­ver­sial con­tempt of court law which set penal­ties for pub­lish­ing ma­te­rial that in­ter­feres with on­go­ing pro­ce­dures or al­leges bias on the part of judges.

Of­fend­ers can be fined up to S$100,000 and jailed for up to three years.

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