Photo of K Shanmugam from Justin Ong CNA

The Singapore Police gave in to public pressure following severe criticisms, including from the President of Law Society, and a new law will be introduced to ensure an adult is present to accompany minors during a police investigation or interview. The new law is enacted following the suicide of 14-year-old Benjamin Lim who jumped to his death from his HDB flat right after he underwent a police interrogation alone in March 2016.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) today (Jan 6) announced that the a new Appropriate Adult Scheme for Young Suspects (AAYS) will ensure young suspects below 16 years old under criminal investigation will be accompanied by a grown-up during interviews from April 2017 onwards.

Appointed volunteers known as “Appropriate Adults (AAs)” will be present to accompany the minors and will look out for signs of distress. The AAs are however neutral and will not assist or advise the minor suspect.

MHA and Law Minister K Shanmugam however expressed cynicism that suicides can be avoided:

“If you ask me whether this will prevent suicides, I’m not so sure I can answer that. But it’s a good thing to do – to give comfort to a young person when being questioned by police. Having someone there will be helpful.”