The War on Drugs

The War on Drugs

Ashwin Ganapathy

Associate, Advocate & Solicitor, Supreme Court of Singapore

I.R.B Law LLP

Nowhere is the war on drugs waged more savagely than in Singapore. Draconian laws and strict enforcement policies have made Singapore an inhospitable environment for drug activities. Our leaders have continually maintained that Singapore is not a country that has a low tolerance to drug activities but a state that has zero tolerance for drug activities.

 

Despite such policies, our firm has in recent years, seen a steady increase in people consulting us for offences about drug activities. The standard drug crimes include the offence of drug consumption, possession and trafficking.

 

Of all the above-mentioned drug crimes, drug trafficking is more severe as a conviction may result in the death penalty being imposed on the offender. As such, it will be of use to briefly state the law on drug trafficking.

Drug Trafficking

A person is deemed to have trafficked Drugs when he sells, gives, administers, transports, sends, delivers, or distributes the controlled drugs, or offer to sell, give, administer, transport, send, deliver, or distribute the said controlled drugs (Section 2 of the MDA (Misuse of Drugs Act –http://statutes.agc.gov.sg/aol/search/display/view.w3p;page=0;query=DocId:%22c13adadb-7d1b-45f8-a3bb-92175f83f4f5%22%20Status:published%20Depth:0;rec=0).

 

A person also commits the act of trafficking of a controlled drug if he is in possession of that drug for trafficking.
Furthermore, anyone who is proved to have had in his possession certain quantities of certain controlled drugs is presumed to have the drug in his possession for the purpose of trafficking unless it is proved that his possession of the drug was not for that purpose – see Section? 17 of the MDA.

 

Possession for Trafficking
The prosecution must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, three elements before an offence of drug trafficking can be made out. They are:
(a) There was possession of a controlled drug;
(b) There was possession of that drug for the purpose of trafficking; and
(c) There was knowledge of the nature of the drug that was possessed – see Tan Ah Tee & Anor v. PP [1980] 1 MLJ 49.

Presumption concerning Trafficking

To successfully trigger this presumption, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the offender is in possession of the controlled drug in question.
On this note, a person is said to be in “possession” for the purpose of the MDA if he knew that he was in control of something.

 

He would not be regarded as having “possession” of something if he did not know that he was in control or possession of that thing.

 

In most cases, knowledge can be inferred from the facts of the case. It is, however, insufficient for the accused person to merely claim that he does not know of the existence of the controlled drugs unless he has no reason for suspecting the presence of the drugs and no reasonable opportunity to examine the drugs.
Once the presumption is successfully invoked, the burden is then on the accused person to show, on a balance of probabilities, that the possession of the drugs was for a purpose other than trafficking.

 

A common defence to drug trafficking is the Defence of Apportionment. Apportionment is a defence where the accused person claims that part or whole of the drugs is for his personal consumption. However, this defence will fail if the accused person is unable to provide some form of reliable evidence of the rate of his drug consumption. Mere evidence from the accused person alone will usually be insufficient to raise this defence.

How we can help

At I.R.B Law LLP we have experienced Criminal Litigation Lawyers who are passionate about justice and fairness. Our lawyers will be able to guide you through Singapore’s Criminal Justice System and each and every stage of the proceedings. We firmly believe that everyone should be entitled to a second chance and be allowed the opportunity to turn over a new leaf and live life anew. Should you be in a position where you may need our assistance, please do not hesitate and contact us at Hello@irblaw.com.sg or call us at 6298 2537 so that we can advise you on your matter.
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