Singapore abolishes jury trials except for capital offenses. The constitution creates two lower courts (magistrate and district) and an independent Supreme Court with justices appointed by the president. Magistrate courts handle civil and minor criminal cases; district courts hear serious criminal offenses. The president also appoints the attorney general.
A 1969 amendment abolishes all jury trials. Citizens have the right to legal counsel and a speedy trial before a magistrate or judge. Defendants can appeal verdicts. The constitution forbids government interference in the judicial process. The Supreme Court of Judicature Act in 1969 reaffirms judicial independence.
The state cracks down on growing drug use, particularly heroin. The 1973 Misuse of Drugs Act mandates jail terms for drug dealers and importers and creates programs to rehabilitate users. Police take blood and urine samples from all suspects. A 1978 constitutional amendment legitimizes this and other police actions that preserve public safety and prevent drug abuse.
Singapore embraces community policing and opens small neighborhood posts in all 10 police divisions. Patrol cars are wired with computers that issue instant crime alerts. In 1989, 15 percent of police officers are women, and Singapore supports six kinds of correctional facilities, from maximum-security prisons to drug treatment centers and day-release programs.
Singapore's judiciary demonstrates its independence by ruling against the government in many political and civil rights cases. Though state officials intimidate political opponents and censor the press, they make no attempt to reverse, remove, or intimidate judges. Singapore remains a tightly ruled society but maintains its balance between openness and control.
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