M Ravi to police: Return mobile phones or face civil proceedings

April 14, 2008
Singapore Democrats

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11 April 2008

Central Police Station
Police Cantonment Complex Block A
391 New Bridge Road
Singapore 088762

To: Investigation Officer, Mr Yew Ai Choo

Dear Sirs,

ARREST OF PROTESTERS OUTSIDE PARLIAMENT HOUSE ON 15 MARCH 2008
LETTER OF DEMAND FOR RELEASE OF HANDPHONES

We refer to your letter dated 9 April 2008.

Our clients attended at the Police Cantonment Complex this morning ad requested for a return of the mobile phones which was not acceded to by the investigation officer. Thereafter they proceeded to the Attorney-General’s Chambers in making a similar request.

Possession and use of mobile phones is not a necessary or sufficient ingredient of the offence under investigation.

It is an unwarranted seizure of private property which has no relevant connection to the offence under investigation.

In so far as it may be argued that it is necessary and relevant for the police to scrutinize records of communication, these are already available to the authorities from the network providers once the mobile phone numbers are known.

Even if, which is not accepted, the police are entitled to have access to details of communications, this would be accessible from the SIM cards, the mobile phone could be returned without impeding the investigation in question.

You will appreciate,in the modern world and civilised societies such as Singapore, a person is expected to have a mobile phone. Over time a person’s mobile phone number forms an indispensable part of his or her identity. It is a means by which personal, family, business, social and professional communications are made to the person, let alone the right to privacy. A mobile phone today contains a wealth of personal, financial, social and commercial data. The police have no right of access to that data without a court order. The seizure of the mobile phones does not provide a legal basis for the retention and scrutiny of the records in the mobile phones.

In the case of lawyers, mobile phones is the platform for the receipt and transmission of communication details of which are subject to legal and professional privilege.

Please take notice that if we do not hear a response from you by 4 pm on Monday the 14 April 2008 confirming that our clients may collect their mobile phones from your station, our instructions are to commence civil proceedings against the police for conversion and detinue.

We reserve all our clients’ rights in the matter.

Yours faithfully,
M Ravi
Ravi & Co.