NASSAU, BAHAMAS – After an eight-year-old girl was abducted earlier this week on Sunday and allegedly molested by her abductor, the Rights Bahamas group said the agonizing suffering experienced by victims of child abuse and their loved ones cannot continue to be tolerated.
Sunday’s abduction was the second that had been reported in the span of two weeks.
The abductions led many to raise the alarm on social media, urging the government to move swiftly to implement the Marco Alert System, which was launched last July 2018.
The System is expected to streamline the activation of urgent bulletins in serious child abduction cases.
As it now stands, Minister of National Security Marvin Dames told the media last week that his ministry has concluded its testing of the Marco Alert System, to ensure that they address issues with the system itself. The government, he said, was also preparing a proposal to present to Cabinet.
However, Joe Darville, vice chairman of Rights Bahamas, on Wednesday called upon the government to move ‘as swiftly as possible’ to enforce Marco’s Law, deploy Marco’s Alert and create a Sex Offender Registry.
“In prioritizing this issue, the government must, of course, take every precaution to ensure that the rights of accused persons are protected; they remain innocent until proven guilty and we must not give in to a witch hunt mentality,” Darville said.
“Nevertheless, the heartbreaking consequences of a continued failure to act to protect our children are clear for all to see in the awful headlines that mar the front pages on an alarming regularly basis. At the very least, the public must be given a timeline for enactment of all three initiatives.”
Darville noted, however, that he wanted to congratulate the government on extending the scope of Marco’s Alert from a mere traditional media to a web-based platform, allowing for broad dissemination across any phone, pagers, emails, fax, loud speakers and secure encrypted messages through mobile applications and radio.
“I noted some time ago that traditional media would not provide the necessary reach or speed to be effective in intervening in a dangerous situation. The Minister of National Security is to be commended,” Darville said.
“These efforts are a long time in coming. In truth, the former government should have done more to implement them, and this government failed to prioritize them quickly enough.
“Let us learn from our mistakes and move swiftly to protect the most innocent among us. There is not a moment to spare!”
Also, in the wake of alleged crimes against children, members of the Democratic National Alliance stressed on Wednesday that there should be no more delays in government implementing a Marco Alert System and a Sexual Offenders Registry.
In a statement, party officials said one can only assume that the minister of national security has dragged his feet or simply fails to see the importance to move with urgency.
The DNA said when a person commits sexual crimes against children, there should be stiff penalties, the inclusion of that person on a sex offenders registry with no exceptions.