Sex offenders to be listed

| 23/10/2008

(CNS): A proposal for an official Sex Offenders Register was approved by the Attorney General more than two years ago and sent to the Legal Drafting Department. However, no bill has since been submitted to the Legislative Assembly (LA). While police say it would be up to the LA to decide who would have access to a Cayman Islands register and to what level, local activist Sandra Catron, insists she will continue to fight until the government database is accessible to the public at large.

Catron announced in October that she intends to create a private sex offenders register on a website that would be open to all, and if necessary she would host and upload it in the United States to avoid running foul of the local Information Communication and Technology Authority (ICTA) or privacy laws. Following a release from the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) about the official database, Catron said that if that was not made public her own would still go on the Internet.

According to police, the proposal is for the official Register to be a collection of information relating to persons convicted of any sexual offence and would include information such as the individual’s name, aliases, distinguishing marks, photograph, place of abode, work place and DNA samples.

The purpose of such database would be to monitor and supervise the offender, say police. In the United Kingdom this information is not made public, however in the United States under Megan’s Law the public has access to information about convicted sex offenders.

“In 2006 the RCIPS Family Support Unit (FSU), in conjunction with the Legal Department, submitted a Sex Offenders Register proposal to the Commissioner of Police for review,” an RCIPS release stated. “Soon after, the draft was forwarded and approved by the Attorney General and sent to the Legal Drafting Department where it is at present until its submittal to the Legislative Assembly to be made Law.”

Police say the advantages of such a register include the increased supervision and tracking of convicted sexual offenders, particularly those at high risk of re-offending after expiry of their parole or probation period, through knowledge of their patterns of offending and place of abode and employment, which would highlight any contact they may have with potential new victims.

The main intended use of the Register is for the personnel who have been recommended to supervise such offenders, such as police andprobation officers, who could have readily available information on all convicted offenders.

"The government seems to be half hearted in their commitment to a sexual offenders registry,” said Catron. “Now that the issue is in the forefront and one of major concern to the public they are able to reveal information that seems to have been on the back burner for far too long. How much longer will the people of these islands have to wait for a proper sex registryto be put in place?”

She continued, “Having said that, I am pleased that they have at least admitted the need for one. However, I will not stop my fight until this database is accessible to the public at large. Recent events and the number of persons that have come forward to me only confirm that this is the right thing to do. In other jurisdictions, the government mandates, oversees and maintains such a registry and it would be the right and proper thing to do. However, it is clear that private sector oversight is necessary as there’s a lack of political will to take this topic on with full force.”

Catron said the statement on the Sex Offenders Register by the RCIPS “proves that every person can make a difference in this community about issues that affect us and we should never rest until all our children are safe."

According to the FSU, one of the most important things you can do if a child has been sexually abused is respond in a calm and matter-of-fact manner. Listen to the words and feelings of the child and observe his or her body language. Believe the child – children rarely lie about sexual abuse.

If you don’t have enough information about what is going on, it is a good idea to ask questions and let the child know you are someone they can safely talk to about this issue. Be sure you do not ask leading questions. What is most important for you as someone who cares about the child is to say that no matter what happened or what they say, you will still love them.

Also, take the time to reassure the child that he or she has done nothing wrong. Let the child know that you will do whatever you can to keep him or her safe. Many people are tempted to handle the disclosure on their own. However, there are resources throughout the Cayman Islands that can help a family through this difficult situation. Furthermore, sexual abuse is illegal so it is important to seek professional help. By taking action you may reduce the risk of others in your community or family from being sexually abused.

Anyone wanting more information should contact the Family Support Unit at 946-9185 or the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre at 949-2422.
 

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Comments (2)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Everyone should have the right to know who these offenders are.  This is the only way we can try and prevent this from happening.

  2. Anonymous says:

    PLEASE let’s do this like US, not UK: let the public, not just the police and remand services, be able to know who the offenders in our community are. 

    This comes down to who deserves the most support/respect: an innocent child who may potentially fall victim, or, a child predator.

    While looking out for those stranger predators let us not forget however that it is statistically most often the people we know who will molest/rape us.  It is sadly the neighbours, uncles, brothers, fathers, step-fathers, grandfathers.

    ZERO TOLERENCE for child abuse and violence against women.

    Good luck, Sandra.