Denial of passports to drug offenders in Singapore

Sections

ABSTRACT
Introduction
Foreign travel restrictions on drug offenders
Denial of passports to offenders who have committed scheduled drug offences
Other categories of drug offenders who are not allowed to have passports
Administrative procedure

Details

Author: POH GEOK EK
Pages: 43 to 45
Creation Date: 1984/01/01

Denial of passports to drug offenders in Singapore

POH GEOK EK
Director, Central Narcotics Bureau, Singapore, Republic of Singapore

ABSTRACT

In order to curtail illicit drug trafficking, drug offenders are not allowed to leave Singapore for a specified period of time ranging from 2 to 15 years, depending on the gravity of the offence. Offenders who have committed certain drug offences, as specified in this article, are not allowed to possess passports. The Immigration Department maintains a register of drug offenders, on the basis of which it refuses to issue a passport to a person who has a drug offence record. The appeal against such a decision is referred to the Central Narcotics Bureau, which, given extenuating circumstances, may authorize the issuance of a passport for a restricted and defined period of time.

Introduction

Drug related problems in Singapore have been largely contained by strict government measures. The Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) is the main drug enforcement agency, which closely co-operates with the Customs and Excise Department and the police force to eliminate drug supplies and to prevent and reduce drug abuse.

In Singapore, drug traffickers and pedlars are prosecuted in courts of law under the Misuse of Drugs Act or detained under the Criminal Law Act. Drug addicts are admitted to drug rehabilitation centres for compulsory treatment and rehabilitation. During the treatment period, they are given intensive indoctrination to help them overcome the drug habit and understand the harmful effects of drug abuse on their health and socioeconomic condition, as well as on their family, community and country. The inmates take part in physical exercise which is a form of paramilitary training intended to restore their health and to inculcate self-discipline. They are also provided with counselling and ample opportunities to learn a trade, to improve their vocational skills or to better their academic qualifications. Towards the end of the treatment period they are placed on a release programme called the Day Release Scheme. The addicts who have undergone treatment are provided with gainful employment and after work they reside in half-way houses for a period of time. After completion of the Day Release Scheme they are placed on statutory supervision. During the supervision programme they are given further counselling. The progress towards a drug-free life of addicts released from treatment is closely monitored through their employers and family members.

Foreign travel restrictions on drug offenders

In Singapore, drug offenders are not allowed to leave the country for a specified period of time, ranging from 2 to 15 years, depending on the seriousness of the drug offence committed. This is to prevent them from obtaining drugs in other countries where it may be easy to do so and from engaging in international illicit drug trafficking. This is, therefore, a contribution to international efforts to curb illicit drug trafficking.

Denial of passports to offenders who have committed scheduled drug offences

The issuance of passports in Singapore comes under the purview of the Immigration Department. The Singapore Passport Regulations of 1971 set out the procedures to be followed in applying for and issuing passports. The Regulations prohibit the issuance or renewal of a passport to a drug offender from Singapore who has committed scheduled drug offences.

The scheduled drug offences and offenders are the following:

  1. Trafficking in a controlled drug;

  2. Manufacture of a controlled drug;

  3. Import or export of a controlled drug;

  4. Possession and consumption of a controlled drug;

  5. Cultivation of cannabis, poppy or coca plants;

  6. Owner, tenant, occupier or person in charge of any place or premises permitting such place or premises to be used for the purpose of smoking, administration or consumption of a controlled drug or for unlawful trafficking in or manufacture of a controlled drug;

  7. A person who has been placed under statutory supervision after having undergone compulsory treatment and rehabilitation in a drug rehabilitation centre.

Other categories of drug offenders who are not allowed to have passports

In addition to the scheduled drug offences listed above, the Controller of Immigration is empowered to refuse the issuance of a passport to, or cancel the passport of, the following categories of drug offenders:

  1. All drug traffickers who had been detained under the Criminal Law Act;

  2. Singaporean drug offenders convicted in any other country of any drug offence.

Administrative procedure

The Immigration Department gathers pertinent information about drug offenders from Singapore and maintains a register of such persons. If an applicant for a passport has a drug record, he or she is informed of such record as being the reason for refusal of a passport. The appeal against the decision, if any, is referred to CNB. If the reasons are valid, based on compassionate or extenuating circumstances, CNB may give the clearance to the Controller of Immigration to issue a passport for a restricted and defined period.