Statement by Mr K Shanmugam SC, Minister for Law, at the Signing Ceremony for the Singapore-France Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters
22 Jul 2020 Posted in Speeches
Your Excellency Minister of Justice and Keeper of the Seals of the French Republic, Éric Dupond-Moretti,
Your Excellency, Ambassador of France to Singapore Marc Abensour
Your Excellency, Ambassador of Singapore to the French Republic Zainal Arif Mantaha,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Good afternoon and good morning to our friends in Paris.
- Singapore and France share deep and strong relations.
- In 2012, we upgraded our relations to a Strategic Partnership. Our relations have reached new heights ever since;
- Most recently in 2018, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was President Macron’s Guest of Honour during France’s National Celebrations;
- High-level exchanges take place on a regular basis;
- France is also Singapore’s second largest goods trading partner in the EU; and
- Many leading French Companies – Airbus, L’Oréal, Louis Vuitton, Schneider Electric, Thales, to name a few, have established a base in Singapore as their gateway to access growth opportunities in Asia.
- In July 2016 on the sidelines of the 11th Asia-Europe Summit in Mongolia, Prime Minister Lee and the former French Prime Minister and then-French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault agreed to step up legal cooperation between Singapore and France.
- This year, we are seeing the results of our strengthened legal cooperation:
- In January this year, we had the inaugural Singapore-France Legal Symposium that was held at the Supreme Court of Singapore;
- Two MOUs were signed at this Symposium
- The first was between the Singapore Academy of Law and the Sorbonne-Assas International Law School, to jointly offer learning and development programmes to the legal community in Singapore and more importantly in this region;
- The second, between the Law Society of Singapore and the Paris Bar Association, facilitates the exchange of information between both countries on the practice of the legal profession.
- Today, we have now come together for an important step forward in strengthening our legal cooperation, with the signing of the agreement on mutual legal assistance.
- The signing of this Agreement builds on the strong foundation of our existing relationship.
- We already cooperate closely on mutual legal assistance requests.
- In fact, our law enforcement agencies have regular exchanges on issues relating to counter terrorism, cybercrime, homeland security, amongst many others.
- What is significant, is a clear directive on my part and my ministry to do this Agreement quickly. In fact, it is our first mutual legal assistance treaty since 2005 – since the last 15 years.
- Our laws already allow us to provide mutual legal assistance on the basis of reciprocity even without a treaty;
- But we recognise the value of formalising mutual legal assistance arrangements with trusted partners. In this case, France.
- This Agreement is also our first bilateral mutual legal assistance treaty with a country with a civil law system.
- Despite the differences in our legal heritage, we were able to negotiate and resolve the text of this Agreement after just three rounds of negotiations.
- This is due to the trust that we have between our two countries, between our officials, and of course due to the hard work of the officials involved.
- Also, it is a testament to the commitment of both countries in the fight against crime.
- We think that this instrument will help in today’s era of rapid communication and international trade, which can be exploited by criminal networks.
- An effective network of international cooperation is needed to deal with criminal organisations, because national authorities alone will find it difficult to deal with them.
- The Agreement sets out a framework and agreed standards for a range of mutual legal assistance between both countries.
- They include:
- The obtaining of evidence such as bank records or witness testimony;
- Restraining and confiscating the proceeds of crime; and
- The search and seizure of evidence.
- This Agreement will further cement the already strong relationship and mutual legal assistance that our two countries give to each other.
- The signing of this Agreement is an important step for us as a responsible member of the international community, and
- Demonstrates our commitment to facilitating greater international cooperation in the fight against transnational crime.
- Excellency, I am pleased to sign this Agreement via videoconference.
- This is a novel approach. It does not allow COVID-19 to stop us from carrying on with what we need to do.
- I would like to express my deepest gratitude to all those who have contributed to making this Agreement and signing ceremony possible.
- I am certain that the relations built in this experience has placed us in good stead for the further strengthening of our legal cooperation.
- Thank you.
Significance of the Agreement
Features of the Agreement
Last updated on 22 Jul 2020