Law reform: Violence in the home

Singapore (27 February 2019) – Amendments are proposed to the Protection from Harrassment Act (“POHA”). These are in addition to the review of the Singapore Penal Code. The focus is on violence against a person in an intimate or close relationship with the perpetrator.

Says Mr Lee Terk Yang, Director of Flint & Battery LLC, “The amendments criminalises harassment, stalking and other anti-social behaviour.”

“It is reported that these amendments will make it easier for victims of intimate partner violence, whether married or unmarried, to seek protection by law.”

SOME REPORTED DETAILS INCLUDE: 

  • A new court: The Protection from Harassment Court will hear both civil and criminal matters. Part of the State Courts, it will comprise a group of judges that will hear all POHA cases.
  • Quicker protection order applications: An Expedited Protection Order application under Poha could be granted within 48 to 72 hours. If there is actual violence (or risk of violence), an Expedited Protection Order could be granted within 24 hours.
  • The Expedited Protection Order would stay in place while the hearing for the Protection Order is ongoing. The court will try to hear the case within a month from when the application is filed. Currently, Expedited Protection Orders will last for 28 days, or until the first day of the Protection Order hearings.
  • Expanded coverage: Protection Orders and Expedited Protection Orders will be extended to cover persons related to the victim, such as their parents and children.
  • Breaching the Protection Order: Currently, a breach is non-arrestable unless a warrant is issued or the breach occurs in front of a police officer. With the changes, individuals who breach the Protection Order can be arrested even if no warrant is issued. Subsequent breaches will lead to doubled penalties.

Terk Yang adds, “The inclusion of these measures on persons unrelated by marriage is its key feature and an emerging feature of law reform. Flint & Battery supports the reforms as progressive and beneficial to our society.”