SINGAPORE: Significant progress has been made in negotiations for a model ASEAN extradition treaty, Senior Minister of State for Law Indranee Rajah said in her Committee of Supply debate speech on Friday (Mar 2).
"At present, Singapore is actively engaged in negotiations," she said. "Like many other ASEAN partners, (we) are hopeful that work on this instrument will be concluded as soon as possible."
Ms Indranee was responding to Workers' Party MP Sylvia Lim, who said it "doesn't seem acceptable" that StanChart robbery suspect David Roach was not extradited from Thailand.
While there remains no ASEAN-wide initiative for the "mutual recognition" of arrest warrants, Ms Indranee acknowledged that Singapore has special extradition arrangements with Malaysia and Brunei.
This is down to the countries' common law tradition and close relationship, and allows for the swift surrender of fugitives based on the recognition of arrest warrants, she added.
In addition, Singapore has signed an extradition treaty with Indonesia, which has yet to ratify the agreement.
And outside the region, Singapore's existing extradition network extends to 43 jurisdictions across the globe, including major jurisdictions like the US.
"All ASEAN member states, including Singapore, are also members of the INTERPOL, which provides a platform for international law enforcement cooperation," Ms Indranee stated.
Ms Indranee said Singapore is committed to facilitating greater international cooperation in accordance with its domestic laws and international obligations.
But when it comes to expanding its extradition network, it is not a matter of "numbers alone", she added.
Considerations include whether such an arrangement would be mutually beneficial for Singapore and the other country, and whether "divergence" in legal systems and procedures can be rationalised.
Furthermore, extradition is a "resource intensive" process that can "place a significant burden on our government agencies and judicial system", she said.
"More importantly, an extradition arrangement, without adequate protections, carries risks to people in Singapore, including our citizens."