By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
NATIONAL Security Minister Dr Bernard Nottage yesterday denied that legislators were trying to secretly embed changes to the highly controversial marital rape bill in the newly amended Sexual Offences Act.
Public debate was re-
ignited after it came to light on Wednesday that sexual assault by a spouse among other crimes could cause a person to be placed on the sexual offenders registry when it takes effect.
After the House of Assembly was adjourned, Dr Nottage explained to reporters that he was not sure whether the clause was speaking directly of marital rape. He said the various kinds of sexual assault and rape were all extracted from the existing Sexual Offences Act.
However, when Parliament reconvened yesterday Dr Nottage said there was misinformation circulating that needed to be corrected.
“I want to say it unequivocally that it is not true,” Dr Nottage said. “I wouldn’t like to believe that it is being done deliberately or
maliciously. But this government is a government of order and honesty. There would be no reason for us to hide what we are seeking to do. Indeed what we are seeking to do is prevent, stop, (and) deter sexual predators who our preying on our children.
“It is dishonest for people who know better to allege such things. What is worse is those who have the responsibility of informing the public to represent to the public something that they know is not true.
“We are not embedding anything. This is the law I wish that those spreading the false stories would cease and desist.”
According to Section 15 of the Sexual Offenders Act, to which the National Security Minister referred on Wednesday, is that any person who has sexual intercourse with his spouse without the consent of the spouse in the existence of a decree for divorce, judicial separation, an agreement to separate, an order from the court for the person not to molest or cohabit with his spouse, is liable to imprisonment for 15 years.
The misunderstanding of the government’s thrust to strengthen child protection laws, Dr Nottage told his colleagues further caused religious leaders great concern.
“I last night (had to) send out an email because I understood that pastors were targeted with a false email and asked to come down to parliament and stop the government from doing this thing.”
He made his views on the matter known as Member’s of Parliament passed the amendment to the Penal Code, the Child Protection amendment, the amendment to the Firearms Act and the Sexual Offences Act.
The House of Assembly will reconvene next Wednesday, December 18, at 10am.