Amendments to Criminal Procedure Code 2010 on fitness to plead and unsoundness of mind regime
29 November 2022
On 14 November 2022, the Ministry of Law (“MinLaw”) issued a press release on the amendments in relation to the fitness to plead/unsoundness of mind regime under the Criminal Procedure Code 2010 (“CPC”). These amendments came into force on 15 November 2022 pursuant to the Criminal Justice Reform Act 2018 (Commencement) Notification 2022.
A summary of the amendments is set out below.
Before the coming into force of the amendments, the CPC provided for special procedures to deal with two categories of accused persons with special needs:
- Those who are “unfit to plead”, i.e. incapable of making their defence at the time of trial; and
- Those who are acquitted on the basis that they were of unsound mind at the time that they committed the offences.
The Minister for Law may order these persons to be confined in a psychiatric institution or other suitable place of safe custody. A confined person must be visited at least once every six months by the visitors of a psychiatric institution, who will report to the Minister on the person’s state of mind.
The key amendments include the following:
- The courts and medical professionals are given a greater role supervising and determining the measures to be taken in respect of such persons. For example, visitors are expressly required to report on not only the person’s state of mind, but also the risk of injury to others if the person is released, and the conditions (if any) that may be imposed to minimise any such risk.
- There will be a maximum duration for confinement pursuant to an order by the Minister.
MinLaw states that a person who is released under the CPC provisions may still be subject to detention under the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) Act 2008 if the person remains a danger to himself or herself, or to others, due to a mental disorder.