What You Should Know About Singapore's Criminal Laws

Singapore's drug laws are among the toughest in the world. Penalties for the possession of small amounts of drugs are up to 10 years in jail or fines of up to $20,000 or both. Penalties for the trafficking of drugs are even more severe.

Individuals caught in possession of the following amounts of drugs or more are automatically presumed by law to be trafficking:

  • 2 grams of heroin
  • 3 grams of cocaine
  • 10 grams of hashish
  • 15 grams of cannabis
  • 100 grams of opium

A mandatory death penalty is passed for individuals convicted of trafficking in:

  • 15 grams or more of heroin
  • 30 grams or more of cocaine
  • 200 grams or more of hashish
  • 500 grams or more of cannabis
  • 1200 grams or more of opium

See the web site Attorney-General's Chambers' - http://statutes.agc.gov.sg/aol/home.w3p - for detailed description of Misuse of Drugs Act of Singapore

It is important that you understand that Canadians travelling abroad are subject to local laws — not Canadian law. You should also know that Singapore has strict laws and penalties against a variety of actions or activities that may not be illegal or may be considered minor offences in Canada, including jaywalking, littering, spitting, smoking in public places and the importation or sale of chewing gum.

Vandalism offences carry a mandatory sentence of corporal punishment (rattan cane). Shoplifting is considered a serious offence. Other offences, such as “outrage of modesty” (unauthorised and unwelcome touching of women) can carry a sentence of corporal punishment. Sexual activity between males is officially illegal and common-law marriages are not recognized. Jail sentences are served in local prisons and there are no extradition procedures for the serving of jail sentences in a Canadian jail.

Should you be arrested in relation to any offence or suspected offence, you will be entitled to be represented by a lawyer of your choice. However, you have no right of immediate access to your lawyer, only to access within a reasonable amount of time. Your lawyer will also not be permitted to sit in with you when you are interviewed by the police or other enforcement authorities.

Just as Canadians would not accept a foreign government interfering in the Canadian judicial process, the Government of Canada cannot interfere in the judicial affairs of another country. As such, the Government of Canada cannot seek preferential treatment for you or try to exempt you from the due process of local law. Nevertheless, it is important that you are not penalized for being a foreigner. As such, the Government of Canada will make every effort to ensure that you receive equitable treatment under the local criminal justice system and are not discriminated against or denied justice because you are Canadian.

The High Commission does not provide legal advice. Lists of legal firms, lawyers and the Board of Commissioner of Oaths and Notaries Public in Singapore is available on the Singapore Law Society's web site. Also see Legal System in Singapore for more details.

A list of Singapore lawyers can also be obtained at the High Commission of Canada.