BRIDGETOWN – The Government of Canada funded Improved Access to Justice in the Caribbean (IMPACT Justice) Project in collaboration with Judicial Reform and Institutional Strengthening (JURIST) Project, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) held the first committee meeting to discuss the need for a Sex Offender Register in the OECS.
The committee is co-chaired by Prof. Velma Newton, Regional Project Director of IMPACT Justice and Mr. Rufus Ferdinand, Deputy Chief Operations Officer of the CARICOM IMPACS Joint Regional Communication Centre. Other committee members included the Hon. Justice Iain Morley of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, Mr. Dwight Lay who serves as General Counsel of the OECS Commission, Commissioner Atlee Rodney of the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda, Mr. Adlai Smith who serves as Director of Law Reform and Special Legal Projects at the Ministry of Legal Affairs in Antigua, Mr. Dennis Darby who serves as a Senior Advisor with the JURIST Project, Ms. Salima Hinds who serves as a Gender Specialist with the JURIST Project, and Ms. Anika Gray who serves as a Gender Consultant with the IMPACT Justice Project.
The committee discussed a number of topics, including: the feasibility of an intra-regional register; the legislative framework in other jurisdictions such as Belize, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago; whether a register should be private, public or follow a halfway house model where information is shared with specific individuals in society; the treatment of persons with criminal sex offences history traveling throughout the region; and the need for model legislation.
The meeting ended with the committee members being in agreement that this was an initiative which should continue. IMPACT Justice will convene another committee meeting and reach out to governments around the region on the topic.