New Sexual Offences Laws in effect to tackle sexual predators and protect citizens from sexual attacks
As of January 31st 2020, perpetrators of sexual crimes will face the full brunt of novel laws aimed at deterring, punishing and shaming rapists, paedophiles and those others with a propensity to commit sexual crimes. For too long the society has seen the rampant commission of sex crimes, including the most savage and brutal attacks against women, children and even the elderly. Statistics demonstrate that sexual crimes are the second highest, after murder, before the High Courts of T&T.
This Government stands committed to strike against all forms of criminality. The Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs continues to strategically pilot and operationalise laws in an approach that has never been seen before. The Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act, 2019 is yet another demonstration by this Government of its commitment to tackle hard crime through ground breaking legislation. For the first time in the history of T&T, information on sexual offenders can be shown on an online website for the public to access their names, addresses, photographs and offences committed. The Commissioner of Police can also publicise this information for the public to be aware and better protect themselves.
For the first time in T&T, law enforcement will now be empowered to better monitor and track offenders who must frequently report to the police station and provide every essential detail about themselves, including their fingerprints and DNA. Victims of sexual crimes can seek compensation from the offender if they contract a Sexually Transmitted Infection. The law also emphasises the protection of children by widening the category of persons who must mandatorily report cases of sexual abuse, failing which an offence is committed.
Before now, the laws that stood regarding the registration of sex offenders were inadequate, inconsistent and underutilised. Between the years 2000–2019, there were a total of 1, 693 persons convicted of sexual offences in T&T, yet zero (0) of those persons were registered in a sexual offenders registry. This Government identified this lacuna in the law for immediate reform to seriously address the sentencing, registering and monitoring of sex offenders and also provide a critical tool to law enforcement investigations.
This law signals a pellucid and strong warning to sexual predators that the Courts, Law Enforcement and the society are now empowered to treat with them as justice for their vile and abhorrent crimes demand.