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Gov't slapped for omission of rehab scheme from sex offenders law

BY BALFORD HENRY Senior staff reporter balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, October 14, 2012    

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THE Opposition has criticised the failure of the Government to include a rehabilitation scheme for sex offenders in

the regulations passed in the Senate on Friday.

Leader of Opposition Business

in the Senate, Senator Arthur Williams, described the absence of

the scheme as a major omission from the regulations.

"This is the main deficiency in the regulations, because if there is no rehabilitation, we will only be monitoring the movement of sex offenders. Where is the rehabilitation aspect?" Senator Williams insisted.

Minister of justice, Senator Mark Golding, said that the regulations concerning the rehabilitation scheme will be promulgated at a later date, as further work would have to be done "before that can happen".

The minister said that the commissioner of corrections, who will be in charge of the day-to-day management of the registration process, has already identified a location for the registration centre for sexual offenders in St Andrew. Information from the 12 minor registration centres will be fed into the central register, for which provisions for personnel and equipment are being sought.

Senator Golding said that the matters currently addressed by the provisions were: the procedure for entry into the register; establishment and location of islandwide registration centres which will feed into the main centre in the Corporate Area; the reporting and notification obligations of sex offenders; the form and content of the register; functions and operations of the registration centres; monitoring of sex offenders; and the management of the information recorded at the registration centres.

He said that the registrars and registers are immediately required, so that convicted persons can be registered and relevant data collected.

He noted that there would be

a three-tier system regulating access to the information stored in the register. Tier one will have the least restricted access, tier two will

have higher restriction, and tier

three, which comprises information on the victims of sex crimes, will be the most restricted.

He said that the information to be recorded and maintained would include information on the sex offender's name, aliases, photograph, date of birth, features, main and secondary addresses, frequented places, as well as convictions.

To access information, interested persons will have to prove legitimate interest. In some cases this will have to be done by the Court.

He said that the name, addresses and contact of victims will only be recorded with the victim's consent, or for notifying the victim in cases

where the offender has given a main address in the community where the victim lives, or when the offender's registration comes to an end.

He said that all persons employed with the registration centres must regard information in the register as secret and confidential, and any person to whom the information is disclosed must also treat it as secret and confidential. Contravening those provisions could lead to a fine of

up to $250,000 or as much as three months in prison.

The regulations are to be tabled

in the House of Representatives

on Tuesday.

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