By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE enacting of the amendments to the Child Protection Act, better known as Marco’s Law, as well as amendments to the Sexual Offender’s Act could come “within a month”, according to National Security Minister Dr Bernard Nottage.
This will lead to the creation of a nationwide alert system for missing children and a sex offenders register.
Addressing the media yesterday at police headquarters, Dr Nottage said it is his intent to have both Acts enacted within that timeframe. However, Dr Nottage said the government has not yet discussed the “retroactivity” of the sexual offenders register.
“With Marco’s Law, we’ve now completed the drafting of the regulations,” Dr Nottage said. “Once our partners have indicated that they are satisfied with what the regulations say, that will come into effect.
“The second one is the Sexual Offenders Act. We have our team working assiduously and we anticipate that within the next two to four weeks we’ll have those regulations completed. When they are, we’ll bring them into effect. I’m confident within the next month we’ll have both of those objectives completed.”
Eleven-year-old Marco Archer was murdered by convicted paedophile Kofhe Goodman in 2011. The child had been missing for several days before his body was found.
At the time of his disappearance, the boy’s family complained that police did not act quickly enough. They said police told them they had to wait 24 hours before investigating.
Last December, when the legislation was being debated in the House of Assembly, Dr Nottage said Archer’s family wrote to him shortly after the boy’s death and recommended implementing an alert for missing children and a sexual offenders register.
Yesterday, Dr Nottage said the changes to the law will cover all missing children by establishing the guidelines for a Mandatory Action Rescuing Children Operation or MARCO alert.
When such a child is reported missing and authorities are satisfied that there is a risk of harm or death, the commissioner of police will be required to use the MARCO alert.
Once the alert is issued, radio stations, television broadcasts, text message, electronic network system, billboards and other means necessary will be used for dissemination.
The sexual offenders register would place all persons who are convicted of sexual offenses on the proposed list.
Dr Nottage said yesterday that government officials have not discussed the retroactivity of the register. However, he said “when the regulations come into effect, the register will then begin to be compiled”.
“It’s important to the community because there are continual charges of sexual abuse, and these are really the worst of crimes,” Dr Nottage said. “It’s almost worse than dying because people don’t die but they have to live with the impact of that on their lives, particularly our women. It’s very important that it is completed as soon as possible.”