(TRINIDAD NEWSDAY) – ATTORNEY GENERAL Faris Al-Rawi said on Monday the law to set up a public register of sex offenders has been proclaimed and the register now waits to be filled by the names of future – but not past – offenders.
Both Houses have passed the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2019.
Al-Rawi explained, “The law is pellucidly clear. It says that it is when the court puts you in the register, you go onto the register, and there are multiple circumstances.
“So the law has been proclaimed. Right now the basket is to be filled by way of judgement after judgement. As and when a court puts you on the register you go on.
“We could not go retroactive, to label people on that aspect, because that would have breached certain constitutional parameters.”
Newsday asked about TT nationals who commit sex offences abroad.
“The law speaks to the nitty0gritty of all of that,” he replied.
The AG said all was ready. “We are ready, set and willing. The Police Commissioner has received the court order to put it on to the register.”
He said the NGO community was adamant that a process must be followed before anyone’s name went onto the registry.
“We compromised in that process. In 2000-2019, no one went onto the register, because they had not operationalised the law.
“They never bothered to create the register, create the mechanism.
“I’ve solved all those issues right now.”
Al-Rawi promised an update on Wednesday when he pilots an amendment to the bill’s schedule in the House of Representatives.
Newsday asked why the register is public accessible, while the NGOs and Senate Select Committee had urged it should be limited to access only by the police.
The AG replied that it is a public register, but with safeguards.
“It is not an automatic public register. The court will determine how public it is. We are looking at a balancing act between victims’ rights, family issues, etcetera.
“So we put it out to the discretion of the court to decide in what circumstances this information ought to be made public. We’ve left it to judicial discretion. The court says in what circumstances information should be made public.”
The court will take into account victim-impact considerations for the ultimate justice of a case to be served, Al-Rawi said.
“In an incest case, do you really want a family to be doubly prejudiced by the position?”
Outcomes can be tailormade for each situation arising, he said.
“So it is not an easy situation. What I have done as AG is to put a very robust piece of law into effect, giving multiple options for multiple remedies. One-size jacket does not fit all.”