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Singapore – Southeast Asia Security Laws

The Singapore Constitution (1963) lays out the structures and powers of the Singapore Government, and guarantees the fundamental liberties of citizens. Part IV guarantees liberty of person (article 9), prohibition of slavery and forced labor (article 10), protection against retrospective criminal laws and repeated trials (article 11), equal protection (article 12), freedom of movement (article 13), freedom of speech, assembly, and association (article 14), freedom of religion (article 15), and the right to education (article 16).

Part XII of the Constitution contains provisions on special powers against subversion and emergency powers. Article 150 establishes safeguards for situations when the President proclaims a State of Emergency. Article 151 provides for restrictions on preventive detentions made during a State of Emergency.

The Criminal Procedure Code (2010) lists the rules of procedure for criminal investigations, the pre-trial stage, trial and appellate courts, and the execution of sentences. Criminal jurisdiction of trial and appellate courts is covered by the Supreme Court of Judicature Act (1970, 1999).

The Penal Code (1872, 2011) is the main source of criminal laws in the country. Chapter 6 lists those acts that are deemed as “offences against the State.” Chapter 8 lists acts that are deemed “offences against public tranquility”, such as illegal assemblies (section 141).

Other sources of criminal laws that pertain to national security are the Kidnapping Act (1961, 1999), the Hostage Taking Act (2010), the Hijacking of Aircraft and Protection of Aircraft and International Airports Act (1978, 1996), and the Terrorism (Suppression of Bombing) Act (2007).

Crimes regarding the financing of terrorism are found in the United Nations (Anti-Terrorism Measures) Regulations (2001) and the Terrorism (Suppression of Bombings) Act (2007).

The Internal Security Act (1963, 1987) (ISA) lists numerous crimes and establishes substantial executive powers that are aimed at protecting national security. The ISA permits the President to prohibit documents and publications “prejudicial to the national interest, public order or security of Singapore” (article 20), and to prohibit or impose conditions on public entertainment or exhibitions (articles 31 and 33). The President can proclaim certain areas as “security areas” (article 48), in which he can make “any regulations whatsoever” (article 72). The ISA also permits indefinite detention without trial for renewable two-year terms on the orders of the President, and prevents judicial review of anything besides the procedural compliance of the detention (article 8).

Regulations and crimes for weapons control are listed in several acts, including the Corrosive and Explosive Substances and Offensive Weapons Act (1963, 1985), the Chemical Weapons (Prohibition) Act (2000, 2001), and the Arms and Explosives Act (2003).