Health Minister Vincent Wheatley has promised that a long-delayed Sexual Offences Bill will be coming to the House of Assembly (HOA) later this year.
Wheatley told lawmakers that substantial efforts were first made to draft a sex offences bill back in September of 2019, however, it is unclear why the process has not moved forward significantly since then.
According to the Health Minister, the Attorney General’s Chambers received the drafting instructions in February 2020.
“I’m happy to report that we were recently advised by [the AG’s] Chambers that in drafting a Sexual Offenses Bill, seven supporting bills were consequently drafted, and the Ministry should be in receipt of same in the coming weeks for our review,” Wheatley explained.
The Health Minister said the bill will then be taken to stakeholders for feedback before coming to the HOA by the third quarter of this year.
He explained that the Sexual Offenses Bill will seek to provide a gender-sensitive legal framework relating to a broad range of sexual crimes and provide adequate measures for minimising secondary traumatisation, mentoring and tracking of sexual offenders following their reintroduction into society.
The Bill will also address the implementation, monitoring and evaluation arrangements, investigation and prosecution procedures, legal proceedings, evidence and sentencing, and provide protection, support, and assistance to complainants and survivors.
Wheatley further shared that the new Sexual Offenses law will bring the BVI in line with international best practices for sexual offence legislation by providing comprehensive definitions and prioritising the prevention of gender-based violence.
Territorial At-Large Representative Stacy ‘Buddha’ Mather commented: “I want to thank you for that because the role that I play outside of this House of Assembly, I do see predators that have been convicted and who walk around and or children, you know, we need to know what is going on.”
He continued: “People do get reformed. I’m not saying [no], but I do think our public needs to be informed and I thank you for taking that very seriously.”
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