Sex Offenders Registry finally on the horizon

Following years of advocacy and numerous debates about the establishment of a Sex Offenders Registry, it is very pleasing to see that as part of the Amended Sexual Offences Bill 2024 there is a proposed provision for this database.
It is startling that despite the presence of a modern law protecting children and women from sexual abuse, there are still many of these cases occurring in society.
Greater awareness and education campaigns have led to sexual abuse being widely discussed in society. Even among children, the subject is now being discussed or taught in a decent manner, primarily because they are victims of sexual abuse.
Child sexual abuse especially raises anger and revulsion in society. Because of the frequency in which child sexual abuse is occurring, children are in dire needed of protection, especially since it is difficult to distinguish a paedophile in our midst. The frightening side to this is that, in many instances, the perpetrator turns out to be someone familiar.
Although people agree that violating children is revolting, there are no systems in Guyana that exposes paedophiles. Since 2017, there have been numerous debates about the establishment of a Sex Offenders Registry. While there has been general agreement and support for such a registry, it is still to be materialised as numerous hiccups have stymied the process. In failing to have such a registry, not only is the public unaware of who among them are predators, but children are placed at greater risk.
As it previously stood, and until the proposed amendments in the Bill is passed in Parliament, paedophiles can commit their acts, go to prison, get released, and simply re-join the community as if their offences were frivolous matters. However, those who commit such heinous acts from May 25, 2010 in or outside Guyana and will be included in the registry.
The proposed Bill states: “Where a citizen of Guyana or a resident does an act in a country outside Guyana which, if it were done in Guyana, would constitute an enterable offence under this Act, he shall be required to comply with the provisions of this Part on entry into Guyana.”
The proposals also include provisions for the police to be notified of discharge of sex offender.
The proposed amendment also states: “Commissioner of Police shall, within two months before the discharge of a sex offender, cause a designated officer to attend the prison to interview the sex offender and collect certain information. That officer shall also be responsible for informing the sex offender of his duty to report to the police station nearest, within seven calendar days of his discharge from the prison. A sex offender who, without reasonable excuse, fails to report to a police station has committed an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $500,000 and to imprisonment for one year.”
As in other societies, paedophilia is a crime that sticks on a person for life; and, by right, societies need to be told and warned of them. We need a more serious approach to curbing paedophilia and dealing with paedophiles.
Some time ago, Education Minister, Priya Manickchand alerted education officers sexual offences at schools will not be tolerated.
To quote the minister: “Education Officers have been alerted to the fact that there is no space for tolerance, whether deliberate or inadvertent, for sex offences in schools or of school children. Any education officer who receives a complaint of such nature must immediately report same to the Deputy Chief Education Officer (admin). Failure to make said report will result in condign action. Teachers and school staff should also take note.”
We are pleased that the proposed amendment to Guyana’s Sexual Offences Act 2010 has finally been complete and includes very updated proposals in the fight against sexual offences.