Speech by Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang, MP for Nee Soon GRC, at the Second Reading of the Extradition (Amendment) Bill (Bill No. 10/2022)
This Bill is a welcome reform of our extradition regime. It reduces bureaucracy for a whole slew of parties, including individuals facing possible extradition, jurisdictions requesting the extradition and judges making decisions on extradition.
I have three points of clarification to raise.
Restrictions on surrender to Commonwealth territories
My first point is on the surrender of persons to “declared” Commonwealth territories
Can Minister clarify why the surrenders of persons to Commonwealth territories are restricted in special ways?
For example, Section 28 categorises offences against the life of a political figure and their immediate family as non-political offences.
What is the significance of this specific carve-out? And why, in general, do additional restrictions apply in cases where Commonwealth territories are the ones requesting the extradition?
Scenarios of Ministerial discretion
My second point today is about Ministerial discretion.
Multiple sections in this Bill empower the Minister to exercise their discretion to decide for or against extradition.
In Section 29, for instance, the Minister may refuse to extradite a person to a Commonwealth territory in multiple cases, including when a person’s conviction was obtained in their absence.
In Section 8(8), the Minister may refuse to extradite a person to a foreign state when their remaining sentence is minimal.
Can Minister share scenarios on how discretion is meant to be exercised for such cases?
For Section 8(8), when might we choose to extradite someone even though their remaining sentence is minimal? This would seem to run against the intent of the subsection, which is to empower the Government to save resources.
Use of summary of evidence
My last point is about the use of summarised evidence.
The Bill allows a foreign jurisdiction requesting extradition to provide evidence by, in essence, summarising it.
Can Minister share what mechanisms are in place to ensure that this summary of evidence is sufficient for the Minister to make the required determinations under the Act?
For instance, section 10 restricts the Minister’s power to order the surrender of persons if the Minister has substantial grounds for believing that the person would be persecuted for reasons of race, religion, sex, ethnic origin, nationality, or political opinion.
What mechanisms are in place to ensure this summary is sufficient for the Minister to ascertain if such substantial grounds exist?
Notwithstanding these clarifications, Sir, I stand in support of the Bill.
Watch the speech here.