Bring sex offenders registry

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Trinidad – The T&T Government should partner with the Angel Watch Centre and the United States’ Department of Justice in a bid to alert foreign law enforcement partners about intended travel by convicted registered sex offenders.
This is the view of attorney-at-law Jonathan Bhagan, who have been advocating to change the sex offender registry policies within the Caribbean region. Bhagan partnered with Zandoli International Foundation in North Carolina, USA to lead the Caribbean Committee Against Sex Crimes (CCASC).
Speaking with the T&T Guardian yesterday, Bhagan explained that whilst the US is stamping passports he is not advocating the stamping of T&T passports of sex offenders just yet, “it is for those persons who have stamped passports to be registered locally on some database. We just want the US data to be used here to prevent rapists from teaching children, which has been happening.”
“The US Department of Justice is seeking inter agency partnerships with governments to share their data and for T&T to send our sex offender data to them. For example, Jack Sporich a Californian, was convicted of molesting over 500 boys and he is the type of person these laws are aimed at stopping. After he was released he went to South East Asia to molest more children,” Bhagan said.
Bhagan further explained that there are serious lacunae or missing gaps/dark areas in the laws of T&T that need to be dealt with expeditiously.
Referring to Part III Sections 34A to Sections 34E of the Sexual Offences Act Chapter 11:28 which provides for a system of notification requirements for sex offenders, Bhagan said that the sections have many lacunae that leave out Sex Offender Notification, “somewhat toothless.”
For instance, preliminary issues arising from a reading of Part III of the Act include, according to Bhagan, no mention of Registered Offenders from other jurisdictions being made to comply with these notification requirements. The Notification System in the Sexual Offences Act, “only seems to deal with offences committed within our Jurisdiction. This was confirmed by a discussion with members of the TTPS.”
He added that there is no express provision dealing with whether this registry is to be made public or kept private, “no stipulations as to what classes of persons/agencies may have access to this information. NGOS such as Rape Crisis have expressed interest in accessing the information to aid in their own efforts against sex crimes. No provisions for sharing the information on the registry with foreign authorities such as Interpol or the US Department of Immigration Angel Watch Center established by the US International Megan’s law,” Bhagan said.
“The US Department of Justice will be seeking to partner with States like T&T to establish inter agency sharing of sex offender data. There must be a legislative basis in place to allow this. Interpol sends out green notices about registered sex offenders that come to their notice but there is no provision to use this data on our local sex offender notification system. Also under the International Megan’s Law registered Child Sex Offenders from the USA have their passports stamped with a special marker. These persons may be coming through Piarco airport to meet with local paedophile rings to abuse children in our jurisdiction but we have no policy to deal with them and no policy document seems to exist defining specifically how the Sex Offender Notification System is supposed to work,” he added.
On May 31, 2016 , National Security Minister Edmund Dillon announced that a registry for sex offenders has been established but disclosed that only the Police Service will have access to it.
Dillon said the electronic registry was established on December 22, 2015, by the Police Service and is intended to maintain a report of the particulars of sex offenders who have been mandated by the court to give notification.
Dillon said the police service was engaged in a training and sensitisation exercise with respect to operation of the registry and accessibility to it, as well as restructuring staff requirements to facilitate its requirement. He added that full implementation of the sex offenders registry and the accompanying station sex offender registry across all nine police divisions will be implemented by June 2016.
Up to press time the questions forwarded to the Corporate Communications Manager at the Ministry, Marcia Hope regarding the status of the registry were not answered.
However, Hope did acknowledge the fact that she was still trying to obtain the information.
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been authorised to create an Angel Watch Center to expand efforts to alert foreign law enforcement partners about the intended travel by convicted registered child sex offenders from the United States to their countries, following the signature of International Megan’s Law by the President.
“ICE’s Operation Angel Watch plays a crucial role in the global fight against child sex tourism. Under this unique and innovative initiative, we are able to send actionable information to our law enforcement partners around the globe so that they can assess the situation and respond appropriately, whether that is to deny an individual entry into their country, or to monitor that individual’s travel for potential danger to children,” said ICE Director Sarah R. Saldaña. “The creation of a formalised and expanded Angel Watch Center further enhances our efforts to protect children around the world.”

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