NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Bahamas Christian Council President Bishop Delton Fernander said he welcomes the Attorney General’s announcement that a sex offenders register will be established in The Bahamas early next year.
“We thank the AG for indicating that the register will be coming in the new year,” Fernander told Eyewitness News Online.
“I think as a [country] we look forward to that promised legislation coming to pass and as for the Christian Council, we’ll do our part to protect those who are vulnerable in our society.
“Any legislation or any act that brings [further] protection for the vulnerable for our society, the council is 100 per cent behind.”
Parliament passed amendments to the Sexual Offenses Act and Child Protection Act in late 2013.
The bills provided for the creation of a sex offenders’ register and a Mandatory Action Rescuing Children Operation (MARCO) alert.
In July 2016, the government launched the MARCO alert system.
However, the sex offenders register was never introduced.
In May, Minister of National Security Marvin Dames foreshadowed the register would be in place before the end of the year.
Just over a week ago, Attorney General Carl Bethel confirmed the government will introduce the register early in the new year.
He said the legislation has been drafted.
While the draft has not been made available to the public, Bethel confirmed that the bill was being consulted on with what he called the appropriate agencies.
Asked if there was a specific function of the legislation the council hopes to see, Fernander said he hopes the government will consult stakeholders, particular civic organizations that work with former inmates and sex offenders, before rolling out the register.
“There are some organizations that deal with offenders and we’d want their input in it; not necessarily the church, but the state would know what those organizations are, like the [Bahamas] Crisis Centre and like brother [Troy] Clarke and his ex-offenders program (LEAD) and those things, I think need some input into what takes place. They have the information from different jurisdictions.”
The 2013 amendments were a direct result of the murder of 11-year-old Marco Archer.
His body was found in September 2011, days after he was reported missing. Kofhe Goodman was convicted for the murder of the young boy during his retrial in the Supreme Court in May.
Marco’s family has been vocal on the enactment of legislation to further protect children, including a sex offenders register.
“That list is something that is a must to help protect our kids, a tool to prevent some things happening,” said Tanzia Humes, Marco’s sister.
“I totally agree that it’s something we need to make happen as a country; as parents, we need to make it happen.”