By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
DESPITE the passing of Marco’s Law last year, legislators have yet to formulate regulations for the Bill which is expected to see the implementation of the Marco alert system and a sexual offender’s registry, according to a senior Cabinet Minister.
The law, which was hotly debated in the House of Assembly and is the direct result of the gruesome killing of 11-year-old Marco Archer by convicted paedophile Kofhe Goodman in 2011, was seen as a move to strengthen child protection laws. The system is expected to be similar to the Amber Alert in the US and registers persons convicted of sexual acts on children.
However, since regulations have not been finalised, the Bill is essentially inactive, according to National Security Minister Dr Bernard Nottage. He was unsure of the Bill’s date for becoming law.
“We have to have regulations written and we will notify the public when they are ready,” he said. “I think it is unfair for us to begin a register without notifying the public. Once it is put into effect, all persons who are convicted of sexual offences will be on that register.
“It is likely that we will begin putting people on the list when the regulations are in place and the act is effective. You see because you can’t, in my opinion, go backwards and put people on a list who committed crimes before a list existed. That is not my intention. My intention is that when the regulations go into effect from that point forward anybody who has committed an offence will go on the list.”
Questions of whether or not the Bill was active came to light several weeks ago when it was confirmed that convicted sexual offender Bishop Randy Fraser had established a new church. The same concerns were reignited on Tuesday following the sexual assault of a 17-year-old American girl in San Salvador.
Sources on the island confirmed to The Tribune that her attacker was once accused of a sexual assault on a woman tourist some years ago. However he escaped charges at the time as the victim did not return to the country for trial, sources said.
Bahamas Against Crime Executive Director Rev C B Moss said the government must get serious about sexual assault on minors. He suggested that despite amending the Child Protection Act very little has been done.
“There is no question that we must take a very close and critical look at the laws as it relates to sexual offences,” Mr Moss said. “The truth is our laws, even though we recently amended the law, still do not reflect the desire of the people.
“People are not sufficiently encouraged to pursue charges. A person convicted of a sexual offence, particularly against minors, should really be tagged and monitored closely, if not directly, in the sense of where that person can go and what they can do.
“In the US, registered sex offenders cannot live anywhere he or she likes to. As for Marco’s Law, the average citizen is not aware of the process of this particular law, what happens and how it is concluded.
“They hear about Marco’s Law, but a lot don’t know the details. I’m not even sure it’s yet been enacted. It should be publicised on an ongoing instance. We need to get serious about achieving our desires rather than talking about it.”