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Jan 27, 2005
Singapore's new law vs immigration crimes
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New rules, which form part of the Immigration Amendment Act of 2004, were passed on November 16, 2004 and are meant to strengthen the powers of the Singapore Immigration and Checkpoint Authority (ICA) in dealing with human smuggling and undesirable foreigners.

The law allows Singapore authorities to penalize individuals caught with forged passports with a fine of 6,000 Singapore dollars (about 200,000 pesos), or a jail time of up to 24 months (four times longer than the previous penalty of six months), or both. The city-state now considers smuggling an illegal immigrant out of Singapore a crime.

The law allows Singapore immigration officers to use the money found in the possession of an illegal immigrant to cover the individual's repatriation costs and to collect biometric identifiers.

Singapore's ICA used to collect only the photographs and fingerprints of travelers and immigrants, she said.

"Vehicles will be 'explicitly required' to stop for immigration checks when entering and leaving Singapore," the report said.

The following are the law's two new provisions which deal with overstaying aliens:

* A child that is born in Singapore but is not a Singaporean citizen is deemed to be issued with a special pass with a validity of 42 days from the date of the child's birth, unless extended by the appropriate authorities. It is an offense for the mother and father of a legitimate child (or for the mother of an illegitimate child) if they fail to ensure that the child leaves Singapore before or on the date the special pass expires.

* Persons who cease to be Singaporean citizens are only allowed to remain in Singapore 24 hours after ceasing to be a citizen, unless issued with a permit or pass authorizing them to remain. A person who ceases to be a Singaporean citizen may file an application for a permit to remain in Singapore within 24 hours of ceasing to be a citizen and may stay in the country, pending the determination of the application. It is, however, an offense for such person to remain in Singapore 24 hours after being informed that his/her application for a permit or pass has been denied. The penalty for such an offense is the same as that prescribed for unlawful entry or presence in Singapore, that is, a maximum of six months in jail; three strokes of caning; or 3,530 US dollar fine.

Quoting the Singaporean Senior Minister of State for Law and Home Affairs Ho Peng Kee, Anota said these new and amended provisions are a "strong deterrent signal" to would-be violators.

According to official figures, 303 people in Singapore were caught using forged passports during the first half of 2004.

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