Channelnewsasia.com: "SINGAPORE: A new specialist Community Court will be set up next month to deal with young offenders, those with mental disabilities and attempted suicide cases.
A Family Centre will also be launched to help couples deal with the legal and emotional aspects of divorce.
These were unveiled by Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong at his first Subordinate Courts Workplan address.
All these are part of the need for new responses to meet the more complex challenges at home and internationally.
The Community Court will deal with cases involving
- young offenders between 16 to 18 years old;
- offenders with mental disabilities;
- parties in neighbourhood disputes;
- offenders in attempted suicide cases;
- young offenders in carnal connection offences;
- those in family violence cases;
- offenders who abuse animals; and
- cases which impact race relations.
'There will be sufficient linkages with community resources to allow for the successful re-integration of individuals back into community settings. In appropriate cases, offenders who would ordinarily be prison-bound would be linked to long-term community-based treatment. To further enhance the administration of criminal justice, I will chair a review panel to look at how current sentencing and bail guidelines can be further improved and rationalised,' said Chan Sek Keong, Chief Justice.
Court 20 at the Subordinate Courts has been designated the new Community Court.
Such a Community Court is seen as timely, as the number of youth offenders went up 14% last year compared to 2004.
The aims of the Community Court are the same as other courts - to prevent and reduce the incidence of crimes.
But there is also the recognition that special management of these offenders may lead to a higher chance of rehabilitation.
'We also try to map out their future plans by putting them in schools, employment, national service. In prison, they are locked up and when they come out, they may not have all this support,' said Razwana Begum, Probation Officer for the Community Development, Youth and Sport Ministry.
The Family Relations Centre at the Family & Juvenile Court will be staffed by specialist judges and trained counsellors to provide divorcing couples legal and therapeutic solutions on custody and other matters.
Other changes announced include a pro-active approach to manage medical negligence cases to promote the resolution of cases without the need for court action. The new initiatives will be implemented in the year ahead. - CNA /dt
Our CJ has been busy indeed.