Tougher penalties proposed for three sexual offences
These include raising the maximum jail term for outrage of modesty from two to three years
The maximum jail term for outrage of modesty will be raised from two to three years under proposed changes to the law, and following a surge which saw 24 per cent more reports of cases in the five-year period from 2016 to last year.
Three sexual offences will have their penalties enhanced under the Criminal Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill introduced by Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Tan in Parliament yesterday.
Aside from outrage of modesty, there will be longer jail terms for engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a minor and for causing a minor to view a sexual image.
The amendments to the Penal Code, a key part of Singapore's criminal law framework, aim to enhance deterrence and allow the courts to deal with egregious cases more severely, said the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Law in a joint press release.
The changes come after a review of the sentencing framework, which was announced by Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam in March.
In the statement, the ministries said there was an average of 1,190 outrage of modesty cases reported each year from 2016 to last year. This was 24 per cent higher than the average number of cases from 2011 to 2015.
The maximum jail sentence for the two offences involving sexual activity or image in the presence of minors will be raised from one year to two years.
The first offence involves sexual activity in the presence of a minor or showing a sexual image to a minor between the ages of 14 and 16, and the second involves similar offences relating to minors between the ages of 16 and 18.
The Bill will also broaden the scope of laws that relate to the use of deception during sex.
It is currently an offence to deceive someone into having sex by lying that protection will be used, and by failing to declare a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
Under the amendments, it may be an offence if the deception sees the victim exposed to risk of contracting an STD - for example, when an individual lies that his STD is not transmissible via sexual activity.
The changes will also make clear that it is an offence for someone to induce, through deception or false representation, a victim to consent to being touched sexually by a third person.
Aside from these offences, the Bill seeks to increase the maximum jail time for giving false information to a public servant, from three months to six months.
Current laws do not apply to a person who gives false information with the intent of causing, or knowing that it will likely cause, the public servant to be ineffective or inefficient in exercising his lawful powers.
One example is when an individual misleads the police, who will then have to put in more time and effort to uncover the identity of a suspect.
Said the ministries: "This is not just a matter of wasting police resources, but also compromising public safety; if the suspect remains at large, he could commit more offences, leading to more victims."
The Bill will clarify that "obstruction" of a public servant's work may arise from providing false information and not just physically obstructing the public servant.
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