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NEWS

Short Update: Man sentenced to death in Singapore on Zoom call

FairTrialsAdmin - May 20, 2020 - COVID-19 Updates, Remote Justice

Singapore's Supreme Court has sentenced a man to death via a Zoom video-call for his role in a drug deal. This is the first case in the country where the capital punishment verdict has been delivered remotely. In the present case, the hearing was limited to the judge’s verdict with no other legal arguments presented. Singapore’s Supreme Court released in March a Circular allowing for entire criminal trials to be conducted by video conferencing, including proceedings to record a plea of guilty. The Court Guide on video and telephone conferencing further indicates that the Court may adjourn the matter or conduct the hearing via telephone in case of continued technical difficulties during the Zoom hearing. 
 
Earlier this month, Nigeria has reportedly been the first country to hold a virtual court session which ended with the Court issuing a death sentence. 

Fair Trials has raised concerns about the impact of remote hearings on the fairness of proceedings and issued related recommendations on their use, including the need to take into account a number of factors such as: 

  • the nature of the hearing; 

  • the complexity of the case and the matter being dealt with; 

  • the need to call witnesses; and 

  • the likely consequences of the hearing on the rights of the defendant. 

 
Fair Trials calls for a thorough impact assessment of remote justice tools on defendants’ fair trial rights before these can be used in non-urgent criminal proceedings carrying grave potential consequences for defendants.  

We publish information as it is reported to us. If you would like to make us aware of an inaccuracy or send us more information please email us at [email protected].  

If you are a journalist interested in this story, please telephone Fair Trials’ press department on +44 (0) 20 7822 2370 or +32 (0) 2 360 04 71.

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