(CMR) Trinidad and Tobago government have announced that they have launched the country’s first sex offender registry from January 31. Taking a stern approach to sexual offenses the Commissioner of Police has confirmed that information on sexual offenders will be shown on an online website for the public to access their names, addresses, photographs, and offences committed.
This information will be for the public to be aware and better protect themselves. The new law also allows victims of sexual crimes to seek compensation from their attackers.
The Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs in a statement issued Monday said the much-debated law took effect at the end of last month and marks the first time in history such an approach to dealing with sexual offences has been used in fighting the crime.
According to the ministry, “perpetrators of sexual crimes will face the full brunt of novel laws aimed at deterring, punishing and shaming rapists, paedophiles and those others with a propensity to commit sexual crimes.”
It added, “For too long the society has seen the rampant commission of sex crimes, including the most savage and brutal attacks against women, children and even the elderly. Statistics demonstrate that sexual crimes are the second-highest, after murder, before the High Courts of T&T.” Their official s shared:
“between the years 2000–2019, there was a total of 1, 693 persons convicted of sexual offences in T&T, yet zero of those persons were registered in a sexual offenders registry.”
Last month alone the police service held 29 persons for sexually related crimes mainly against children, which led to a total of 44 charges. They continue to see a sharp increase in crimes against children.
In its statement, the ministry said the Government stands committed to striking against all forms of criminality and the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act, 2019 is yet another demonstration by this Government of its commitment to tackle hard crime through groundbreaking legislation. It said through the act law enforcement will now be empowered to better monitor and track offenders who must frequently report to the police station and provide every essential detail about themselves, including their fingerprints and DNA. And most strikingly victims of sexual crimes can seek compensation from the offender if they contract a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI).
Various successive governments have been unwilling to implement a sex offender’s registry in the Cayman Islands despite a publically submitted petition. Sandra Hill submitted a petition with over 1,100 signatures at the time. There has never been an update on the petition’s progress.
In November 2011 Royal Cayman Islands Police Service Superintendent Marlon Bodden said police have previously supported the idea of a public sex offender registry, but establishing one is a government policy decision – not something police would do on their own.
Out of frustration, she set up a Facebook page sex offender registry but after police threats to arrest her for it she handed it over to overseas parties. CMR research shows it is not currently maintained despite a significant following.