Dames welcomes feedback on draft regulations for sex offender registry

Dames welcomes feedback on draft regulations for sex offender registry
National Security Minister, Marvin Dames.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS –  While the government’s decision to publish draft regulations for a sex offender registry on its website recently received backlash from Director of the Bahamas Crisis Center, Dr Sandra Dean Patterson, Minister of National Security Marvin Dames said her feedback and those of others is exactly what the government is looking for.

“When you look at the sexual offenses’ registry, and it varies from country to country, what we are seeking to do is find out how exactly Bahamians feel. And the fact that we’re now getting feedback, it’s a good thing,” said Dames before heading to Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting.

In an article published earlier this week in the Tribune, under the headline, “Don’t let public see sex register,” Psychologist, Dr. Sandra-Dean Patterson said a public register would be ineffective as it would lure people into a false sense of security.

Dean-Patterson was quoted in the Tribune as saying: “What happens is public registers really gives people a false sense of security because you think if you’re a sexual offender and you come out of prison you go on the register and then people will get to know where you are and whether you’re likely to be a danger.

“I always thought the registry needs to be non-public. If we’re going to have a sex offender registry, given the size of our country, you talk about them not living near a school, not being near parks, where in Nassau could you not live near a school? I don’t think it’s realistic and it could enhance vigilantism because this is a subject people are so angry about.”

Yesterday, Dames said Patterson’s comments and those of others are exactly why the government made the move to publish draft regulations on its website.

According to Dames, the legislation is currently before Cabinet.

He said while not wanting to allude to a specific timeline on when the registry will be implemented, he admitted that it could happen before the end of this year.

“We look forward to assessing it all once we’re done so that we could make a decision to make this registry, which has been long overdue, a reality.”

Plans for a sex offender registry was introduced under the former Progressive Liberal Party administration in 2013 with an amendment to the Sexual Offences Act.

The move came after the murder of 11-year-old Marco Archer, who was killed in 2011 by convicted child predator Kofhe Goodman.

Archer’s death gripped the nation, sparking amendments to the Child Protection Act and the establishment of a MARCO Alert System for missing children.

The Child Protection Amendment Act 2014 came into effect on August 26, 2015.

The MARCO Alert system was implemented in July 2016.

During his contribution to the 2019/2020 Budget Debate in the House of Assembly last week, Minister of National Security Marvin Dames revealed that Cabinet has approved  Multimedia Technology, a noted Bahamian Company and a leader in the field, to ensure that the Marco Alert system is fully implemented.

“The contract is presently being finalized and we expect to sign in a few weeks,” Dames said.