The Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act, which will allow the names of sex offenders to be published online, has been proclaimed.
Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi told Newsday in a telephone interview that from now on, offenders will be added to a website that will be run by the Commissioner of Police.
He said the public will have access to this site. “It will be massively impactful,” he predicted. He said the act in a previous form,which was in operation for 20 years, did not have one listing of a sex offender. A media release from his ministry said as of January 31 “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.
“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.”
It said statistics showed the number of sex crimes ranked second to murder in offences before the High Court. The release said Government stands committed to strike against all forms of criminality and Al-Rawi continued to strategically pilot and operationalise laws in an approach that has never been seen before.
The Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act, 2019, the release claimed, “is yet another demonstration by this Government of its commitment to tackle hard crime through ground-breaking legislation. For the first time in the history of TT, information on sexual offenders can be shown on an online website for the public to access their names, addresses, photographs and offences committed.”
The release added that law enforcement will be empowered to better monitor and track offenders, who must frequently report to police stations and provide “every essential detail” about themselves, including their fingerprints and DNA.
Under the act, victims of sex offences can seek compensation from the offender if they contract a sexually transmitted infection, and the law also emphasises the protection of children by widening the categories of people who must mandatorily report cases of sexual abuse. Failing to do so is an offence.
“Before now, the laws that stood regarding the registration of sex offenders were inadequate, inconsistent and underutilised,” it said.
The release said between 2000 and 2019, 1,693 people were convicted of sex offences, but not a single one was listed in a sexual offenders registry.
“This government identified this lacuna in the law for immediate reform to seriously address the sentencing, registering and monitoring of sex offenders and also provide a critical tool to law enforcement investigations. This law signals a pellucid and strong warning to sexual predators that the courts, law enforcement and the society are now empowered to treat with them as justice for their vile and abhorrent crimes demand.” The act was assented to on on September 26, 2019.