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The Recourse Initiative

The Recourse Initiative ("TRI"), formerly known as The Innocence Project, is a student-led initiative that seeks to provide recourse for individuals who believe that they have been wrongfully convicted or that their sentence is manifestly excessive. 
More about TRI
Founded in 2012, TRI provides its members with the opportunity to analyse real life cases, communicate with the applicants through written correspondence, and conduct face-to-face interviews with convicted inmates. This allows members of TRI to gain practical experience by interacting with applicants. In so doing, TRI not only provides an opportunity for its members to gain more holistic legal education experience, but serves to inspire the next generation of criminal lawyers.

Furthermore, TRI aims to uphold public confidence in the criminal justice system by providing a means of recourse for convicted inmates who have exhausted all forms of appeals. This is done by assessing the applicants’ claims of wrongful conviction in consultation with experienced and dedicated law professors and criminal law practitioners.

Convicted inmates, who have exhausted all avenues of appeal and possess new and compelling evidence to support the claim that one is factually innocent of the crime or that their sentence is manifestly excessive, are eligible to apply to TRI. They can then submit an application form to TRI via the prison letter system. 

After an application is received, TRI begins the investigation process of analysing the various information available, and may provide further written correspondence or an interview if further information is required. If the applicant’s case is found to be meritorious, the case will be recommended to The Law Society of Singapore for a lawyer to take up on a pro bono basis.
The 
TRI Team
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    Member1
    Project Director
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    Member2
    Manager
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    Manager
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    Manager
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    Manager
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    Manager
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    Manager
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    Manager
A Successful Case
Since its official launch, TRI has successfully helped to overturn one wrongful conviction. The applicant was initially convicted for repeated drug consumption, and was sentenced to 7 years and 6 months of imprisonment and 6 strokes of the cane. However, the applicant claimed that he was innocent because the traces of drugs found in his urine originated from a prescribed medicine that he had earlier consumed. He also maintained that during his trial, his lawyer did not act on his instructions, and that he was told to keep silent when his defence was called (without being advised of the consequences).
A student team from TRI analysed the fact pattern and the legal issues that arose in this case, and subsequently recommended that it should be passed on to a pro bono lawyer. Mr Mervyn Cheong (from the law firm Eugene Thuraisingam) took up the case and, on appeal, he successfully persuaded the High Court to grant a re-trial for the applicant. The Prosecution eventually applied for the applicant to be acquitted of his charges after 3 years in remand. 

This case properly illustrates that while wrongful convictions in Singapore may be rare, it is nevertheless a very real occurrence. The successful acquittal in this case bears testament to the capabilities of TRI’s members to address this issue effectively. But for the team’s recommendation, the applicant may not have had his field day in court to right his conviction. The Project aims to continue its good work and ensure that an accused’s guilt or innocence is always determined justly and fairly, much like the applicant above.
TRI Articles

The Law of Reviewing...

1. IntroductionAs keenly recognised by the Singapore Court of Appeal (“SGCA”) in Kho Jabing v Public Prosecutor [2016] 3 SLR 135[1...

From secret to invis...

Singapore is often extolled for being one of the safest countries with the lowest crime rates. It is almost counter-intuitive for ...

Know Your Legal Rights

Getting arrested is no laughing matter. For the common man, one’s knowledge of criminal proceedings is often confined to what is p...

Insight-Out: Reflect...

Sane or Insane: An I...

Other Resources
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