Saturday, February 6, 2010

When Your Life Depends on a Presumption

Because possession is presumably trafficking.

In Singapore, a person presumed to be trafficking a stipulated type and amount of drug receives a mandatory death sentence - no questions asked.

Heroin – more than 15 grams
Cocaine – more than 30 grams
Crystal Meth – more than 250 grams
Cannabis – more than 500 grams
Cannabis mixture – more than 1000 grams
According to Central Narcotics Bureau

If you're found with less, e.g. 3 grams of Cocaine, the burden of proof that you're not trafficking is on you. This has led me to question the technicalities of key points in this whole equation: mandatory, trafficking, possession, presumption.

Mandatory - according to the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary, describes something which must be done, or which is demanded by law.

So, more than 30 grams of Cocaine, the law demands that you're hanged. More than 3 grams and the burden of proof is on you - DP if you can't prove you weren't trafficking.


According to the Misuse of Drugs Act,
Presumption concerning trafficking
17. Any person who is proved to have had in his possession more than —

* see Part III (17) for full list of drugs and amounts

- whether or not contained in any substance, extract, preparation or mixture, shall be presumed to have had that drug in possession for the purpose of trafficking unless it is proved that his possession of that drug was not for that purpose.


Basically, possession is deemed trafficking unless you can prove otherwise. Which brings us to another important factor: what constitutes possession?


Presumption of possession and knowledge of controlled drugs
18. —(1) Any person who is proved to have had in his possession or custody or under his control —
(a) anything containing a controlled drug;
(b) the keys of anything containing a controlled drug;
(c) the keys of any place or premises or any part thereof in which a controlled drug is found; or
(d) a document of title relating to a controlled drug or any other document intended for the delivery of a controlled drug,
shall, until the contrary is proved, be presumed to have had that drug in his possession.


A word that keeps coming up is presume.

According to the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary,
Presume - to believe something to be true because it is very likely, although you are not certain.

So it comes down to this.
The punishment for drug trafficking: A person found with drugs, or with access to a premises where drugs are found, can and/or will be hanged as is demanded by law because it is very likely that he/she owned, had control of and intended to traffic the drugs, although no one can really be certain.

Or, to keep it simple:
DP for drugs in Singapore = When your life depends on a presumption.

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