By definition, an extradition refers to a cooperative law enforcement act between two jurisdictions where if a person from country A commits a crime in country B and escapes back to country A, the law enforcement from country A will send the suspect back to country B to face criminal charges in their court.
The Extradition Act (EA) in Singapore provides the basis for criminal suspects who have left the country to be brought back to Singapore to be dealt with by the authorities according to the law.
This co-operation between two or more countries is also known as an Extradition Treaty, or simply just through formal arrangements.
Extradition Treaty: This is an agreement which establishes the conditions under which extradition to and from the countries involved may take place. Treaties can be bilateral, involving only two countries, or multilateral, involving multiple countries. Treaties are legally binding and the countries involved will need to act in accordance with the agreed conditions. This is to ensure transparency and clarity throughout the extradition process.
Extradition Arrangements: Countries that do not have an extradition treaty may instead, have extradition arrangements with each other. Arrangements are derived from the written laws from the respective countries involved. In Singapore’s case, the EA comes into force here.
In the case where there is an absence of both a treaty and arrangement, extradition may be governed by the provisions of the countries’ present laws.
Countries that Singapore have Extradition Treaties/Arrangements With
Singapore currently has bilateral extradition treaties with the United States, Germany and Hong Kong – all three referred to as “Foreign States” in the EA.
As part of the London Scheme for extradition within the Commonwealth, Singapore also has extradition arrangements with 40 Declared Commonwealth countries. The list of countries include Australia, New Zealand, Canada, The United Kingdom and India.
There are also Special extradition arrangements in place with Malaysia and Brunei based on the mutual recognition of arrest warrants.
What are the crimes that are considered “extraditable”?
For extradition from Foreign States to Singapore, the offences are stated in the First Schedule of the EA and some examples include murder, manslaughter, rape, kidnapping, bribery, stealing and embezzlement as well as burglary and robbery.
For extradition from a Declared Commonwealth country to Singapore, there is an additional requirement that the offence must carry a maximum penalty of death or imprisonment for a period of at least 12 months.
After being extradited, the accused can only be detained or tried in Singapore for an offence that is either related to the extraditable offence. He/she cannot be detained or tried in Singapore for another extraditable offence unless the other country has consented to it.
For extradition from Malaysia, the suspect may be brought back to Singapore to be dealt with by the authorities as long as it’s a seizable offence — an offence in which the police can make an arrest without a warrant. Offences punishable by conviction with at least 6 months imprisonment under Malaysian law also qualify for extradition.
In the next part, we will explain what happens when an accused flees Singapore for a country that Singapore does not have an extradition treaty or agreement with.
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.