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Singapore

Shanmugam asks WP's Raeesah Khan for details on allegations of police mishandling rape case

When asked which police station she had accompanied the woman to, Ms Khan repeatedly declined to give further details, citing the need for confidentiality.

SINGAPORE: Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam on Monday (Oct 4) repeatedly called on Workers' Party MP Raeesah Khan to provide further details following her allegations that the police mishandled a sexual assault case.

In response, Ms Khan declined to furnish such information, citing the need for confidentiality. 

Ms Khan, the MP for Sengkang GRC, had spoken during her party's motion on empowering women in Parliament in August and stated how she had accompanied a rape survivor to make a police report three years ago.

KHAN'S COMMENTS IN AUGUST

The 25-year-old woman came out of the police station crying, Ms Khan said, adding: "The police officer had allegedly made comments about her dressing, and the fact that she was drinking."

Ms Khan also said that there was a need for "better treatment" of survivors of sexual assault and sexual harassment by law enforcement.

Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Tan then asked for more details about the incident, so that an investigation could be launched.

Ms Khan replied that the incident had taken place three years ago and she did not wish to re-traumatise the person whom she had accompanied. She later pointed out that she had been unsuccessful in contacting the woman since the incident three years ago. 

In a clarification, Ms Khan said that she would communicate directly with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on any future episodes where a survivor believes she has been processed inappropriately by the police, while trying her best to maintain confidentiality.  

A "VERY SERIOUS MATTER"

In a ministerial statement in Parliament on Monday, Mr Shanmugam said that such allegations about the police are taken "very seriously".

"Ms Khan has said that she didn't want the victim to be re-traumatised or re-victimised. I understand and empathise with that. And we will bear that in mind as we seek to investigate what happened, especially since a member has raised this here in Parliament, to make sure that we know what happened, and if necessary, discipline the police officers involved," said Mr Shanmugam.

"This does not have to mean naming the victim. We will consider carefully how to protect the victim and deal with this matter sensitively. What is extremely important is that we identify the police station, the officers involved. I've given very clear instructions to the police that we have to identify the officers involved, get their versions, to be fair to them, and what further steps are taken depends on the facts."

SHANMUGAM PRESSES KHAN FOR DETAILS

Mr Shanmugam then asked Ms Khan through Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin for further details such as the police station that she had gone to with the victim, and if possible, the names of the police officer or officers who attended to Ms Khan and the victim.

"Police have spent a lot of time searching their records since this point was made. But they don't seem to be able to identify a case where Miss Khan was present with the victim. It is entirely possible that they didn't note down Ms Khan's name, but it is most important that the matter is not left hanging with doubt over what may or may not have happened," he said.

However, Ms Khan declined to give more details.

"Like I said, it did happen three years ago and I haven't been successful getting in touch with the person that I accompanied. And, you know, with regards to confidentiality, I would prefer for it to remain that way," she said.

Mr Shanmugam then reiterated his request for details of the police station, the month the visit took place and the identities of the officers to be provided, should Ms Khan know them.

In response, Ms Khan said she did not know the identity of the police officers.

When asked again for details such as the police station and date of the incident, she again cited confidentiality as a reason for not wanting to reveal further information. 

"I have to say that perhaps Speaker has the power to direct answers, since the matter has been raised, and through you sir, I'll ask for a direction to be given that we be told which police station and the month. And, if not the date, at least a month and which police station," said Mr Shanmugam.

In response, Mr Tan said that this was a "fair question" and asked Ms Khan if she would like to respond or continue to hold the same position.

"The reason is that certain allegations have been made, which I think are fair and serious and the police I understand would like to follow up to check to make sure that they can rectify the situation. So, any leads would be useful without divulging the name of the lady concerned," said Mr Tan.

However, Ms Khan stated, for a fourth time, her stance on confidentiality: "I still like for it to remain confidential."

"Sir, I don't understand this point about confidentiality. Can I ask through you sir, for Ms Khan to confirm in this House, that everything she has told us is accurate, that she did accompany such a person, and such an incident did happen?" asked Mr Shanmugam.

After Ms Khan answered in the affirmative, Mr Shanmugam said that the records had been checked and there was no case fitting the description given by her.

"Speaker and members will know that confidentiality doesn't extend to not telling us which police station. And Sir, I will leave it here for now. But that does not mean the matter rests, the police will investigate this very serious matter further," he added.

"The officers in charge in the police will interview Ms Khan, and any allegations of misconduct concerning specific officers will be referred to SPF's (Singapore Police Force's) internal affairs office for further investigation."

Source: CNA/mt(ac)

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