In Part 1, we explained the fundamentals of the Extradition Act (EA) as well as the process of extradition involving countries that Singapore has an extradition treaty or agreement with. In Part 2, we will explain what happens if an accused flees Singapore for a country that does not have an extradition treaty or agreement with Singapore.
Singapore may still make a request to the country in question to extradite the person but there is a possibility that this request may be rejected.
The bank robber who got charged for money laundering
A recent example of this would be the Standard Chartered robbery case in 2016 where the robber, a Canadian national fled to Thailand – a country with whom Singapore doesn’t have an extradition treaty with.
However, Singapore’s request was rejected by Thailand on the basis that it was “not in a position to consider it.”
Thai authorities eventually convicted him for money laundering offences as he had brought, what was suspected to be the money from the bank heist, into the country which exceeded the cap of US$20,000 (S$27,600) allowed into Thailand.
What can Singapore do if extradition requests get rejected?
If the accused person freely travels to another country, which happens to be one with whom Singapore has an extradition treaty or arrangement with, then the Singapore authorities will be able to send a request to that country to secure the extradition.
This means they have to wait until that happens.
Using the example of the bank robber again, after he had served his 14-month sentence for money laundering in Thailand, he was deported from Bangkok back to Canada. It was only while he was in transit in London that British authorities arrested him on Singapore’s request.
The case is still currently being heard in British courts after the man filed an appeal against the extradition.
Can a country which has signed an extradition treaty with Singapore still reject a request for extradition?
Yes, this could happen if the country is of the view that the request does not meet the requirements for extradition under their laws.
This was cited as a possibility by observers for Hong Kong’s rejection of Singapore’s request for the extradition of Malaysian businessman Jho Low in connection with the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) corruption probe even though Hong Kong never made their reasons public.
Concessions to secure extradition
Singapore has made concessions in the past in order to meet the other country’s requirements for extradition under their laws. These concessions were justified by its necessity to avoid a situation where the accused may be released without punishment.
For example, Australian law forbids the extradition of an individual to a country if he/she could receive the death penalty. That was why in the 2002 Orchard Towers Murders case, Singapore had to agree to a concession with Australia not to subject the killer to the death penalty in order to secure his extradition from Australia to Singapore.
He eventually pleaded guilty to two counts of culpable homicide not amounting to murder and disposing of the victims’ bodies and was sentenced to 24 years in prison.
Britain abolished caning as a punishment for criminals back in 1948. Therefore, British law prohibits the extradition of a person to Singapore if he/she may be punished by caning. This is why in the bank robber’s extradition case, Singapore had to agree to a concession with Britain to ensure he won’t be caned.
Can extradition requests be contested?
An accused person who is subject to an extradition request may have the option of contesting his/her extradition through an application with the court of the country in which he/she is being held. The court will then assess the merits of the application before deciding on an outcome.
In the next part, we will explain the process of extradition to Singapore.
Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Practice has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years. With a vast knowledge of Singapore’s laws and a wealth of experience, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, feel free to contact us for a consultation.