Prosecution has important role to play to ensure fair sentencing: Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon

SINGAPORE - The prosecution has an important role in helping the courts arrive at the right sentence, said Chief Justice (CJ) Sundaresh Menon on Thursday.

Speaking at the two-day Sentencing Conference 2014 held at the Supreme Court, CJ Menon highlighted what the prosecution should identify in their sentencing submissions so there can be a fair sentencing. They include facts and circumstances of the offence and aggravating factors, as well as sentencing guidelines and benchmarks from previous cases.

"While the prosecution may take the position that a certain sentencing range is appropriate in the circumstances, it must present all the relevant materials to enable the court to come to its own conclusion as to what the just sentence should be," he said at the event attended by over 300 in the legal field.

To enable judges, prosecutors and lawyers to have access to more accurate, detailed and timely information about sentencing trends, the Sentencing Information and Research Repository will be launched next year. It is a sentencing database that captures the data of cases.

CJ Menon also reiterated the principles of sentencing, stating that punishment must be "proportionate to the severity of the offence committed as well as the moral and legal culpability of the offender". He called on judges to explain the reasons behind their decisions when passing a sentence.

In addition, he touched on the role of the new Progress Accountability Court, which will focus on the rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders after sentencing.

"(It) will consider the offender's present conduct, while being cognisant of his past, and work with him towards securing his future...various aspects of his conduct will be pointed out...for his improvement," he said.

"The task of sentencing an offender justly is a complex exercise...But the system would be enhanced if the stakeholders kept firmly in mind the goal of ensuring that after the sentence has been served, ex-offenders must be re-integrated into mainstream society."