(Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News)
There is a continuous increase in child molestation in the territory, says Territorial At-Large candidate of the Progressive Virgin Islands Movement (PVIM), Apostle Curnal Fahie, and he wants to put measures such as a public sex offenders’ registry in place to quell the occurrences.
During a recent press conference, Apostle Fahie said, “We care about social well-being,” and as such, he said that a PVIM government will “look at laws and legislation that will match the crime.”
The list, he explained, will not only reveal local offenders, but regional and international offenders.
He said that he will remain committed to that objective, however, he cannot say how quickly it will be implemented should they be elected, as there are the technical aspects to examine, such as consultation with the public and enacting the necessary legislation.
“These things, you have to put legislation and stuff in place. We can’t promise 100 days or one year, but that is something we are focusing on…working with social development to put stuff like this in place,” he noted.
Chairman of the PVIM and former Minister of Health and Social Development, Hon. Ronnie Skelton pointed out that discussions for such a registry had already commenced.
Back in September, it was disclosed that Cabinet was in discussion about the establishment of the registry.
According to Hon. Skelton, “An offender’s register is in process…What we are working out is that it doesn’t just apply here, but if you’re from any other island or United States, we could have that reciprocal arrangement so that we could know when a sexual offender is visiting our shores. So that’s the part that needs to be worked out.”
Lending his voice to the conversation, Second District candidate for the PVIM, Hon. Melvin ‘Mitch’ Turnbull recalled that the issue was also discussed among members of the judiciary while he served as a Lead Assessor in the Virgin Islands Youth Court.
“I know that’s one of the things the then Minister of Health, Hon. Skelton, the Department of Social Development, myself, together with the Senior Magistrates started to look at in terms of not just a registry, because what we have now persons that are committed or sentenced…the yearly sentences are still at a minimal,” he recalled.
He added that measures will also be explored to ensure that once found guilty, an offender cannot return to the community where their victim resides, so as to prevent harassment, as well as to preserve the psychological well-being of the victim.
“We must ensure that the things we are doing to protect our young people are done in a holistic manner,” he stressed.