By Esther Durand, BVI News Staff
Cabinet is discussing to establish a sex offender’s registry in the British Virgin Islands.
Minister for Health and Social Development Ronnie Skelton told BVI News this week that the matter has been put up for discussion ‘on many occasions’. But, to date, no definitive decision has been made on when or how the registry will be implemented.
The minister said the registry would reflect local sex offenders but he also noted: “There are sex offenders that are travelling here (the BVI)”.
To that end, part of the considerations include having persons cross-referenced in a sex offenders database as they enter the territory, Skelton told BVI News.
“The ministry is interested in making such a registry but the problem with it is that before you make one, you have to make arrangements or alliances with other countries. We were never able to come to a consensus on how we are going to get sex offenders travelling into our country on to the registry,” he explained.
“That, I must say, has been causing the delay in creating such a registry … We are still debating it,” he said.
Asked why the sex registry cannot be started locally then expanded externally, Skelton said government is being advised by the Office of the Attorney General on the matter.
“It must be a decision that is fair and transparent,” he said.
Expose repeat offenders
Meanwhile, BVI News sought the views of the BVI Red Cross who recently announced plans to undertake a comprehensive child sexual abuse prevention strategy in the territory.
Director of the BVI Red Cross Helene Frett said such a registry is important but said some discretion should be afforded to persons who qualify as sex offenders.
“First-time offenders should be given a chance to change their ways, but the repeat offenders need to be on a registry so that people can protect their children,” she said.
Frett further said parents need to assist in educating their children and encourage them to be careful.
Some local men struggling with sexuality
Henderson Tittle, who is President of the Mentoring Anointed Leaders Everywhere – more widely known as MALE – also shared his views on the topic.
“I think we do [need a sex offender’s registry] because we need to know who is living among us,” he said.
“There are some young men who struggle with their sexuality and it does not necessarily mean they are bad people … If we know where they are and we know who they are then we will be able to minister that help to them.”
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