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SVG to get sex offenders’ list

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St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) may soon have legislation that will allow names of sex offenders and perpetrators of domestic violence to be published.

This was disclosed by Minister of Social Development, Frederick Stephenson, during a press conference held on Monday by the Ministry of National Mobilization and Social Development to launch the local 16-day campaign to end violence against women and girls.

The Minister, in answer to a question, said that discussions are ongoing to have perpetrators of domestic and sexual violence tagged.

“…And they would be published as soon as this kind of legislation comes to the fore,” Stephenson said.

He also expressed that there are ways, other than violence, of settling domestic disputes, but if an agreement cannot be reached, under the new Domestic Violence Act the police can not turn away a victim.

“…No longer, under this Act that a police can say to an individual, whether man, woman, boy or girl, that that’s a little thing, go home and make it up. The laws say it’s a crime which should be investigated and there are penalties in place for it,” the Minister said.

He also stated that legislation is also coming to regulate the music played in public transport vehicles.

“A new piece of traffic legislation is coming to the fore. I believe that within the AG chambers and Minister [Julian] Francis, they are reviewing the draft that they had. Now that we have some new issues coming to the fore, those would have to be included in the new traffic regulations and it is the hope of the Cabinet that maybe by year end or early in the new year, that we can have this new traffic regulation in place…”

Head of the Criminal Investigation Department Superintendent Ruth Jacobs said the police force is aware that the manner in which some police officers dealt with virtual complainants of domestic violence led those victims to not pursue their case.

“Anytime anything like this is done, we have a Police Complaint Department, where one can go and lodge a complaint against a police officer and this matter will be thoroughly investigated,” Jacobs said.

Stephenson urged victims and witnesses in cases of domestic abuse, who would usually drop their case or refuse to testify, to let the courts decide the matter. He asked them not to waste the energy of the police, social workers and medical staff, who have worked toward building a strong case for the victims.

The 16-day campaign is part of the United Nations 16-day global activism, which began last Saturday, November 25, which was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and will run up to December 10.

Campaign activities include a panel discussion on NBC Radio on December 3; an anti-violence campaign at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital Out-Patient Clinic on December 6; and a Candlelight March and Rally at Biabou on December 10, all geared at bringing attention to the issue.

The theme is ‘Leave No one Behind: End Violence Against Women and Girls’ and the public is encouraged to wear the colour orange or the brooches provided by the Ministry, in solidarity with the cause.

Stephenson said despite the many means by which domestic violence is being tackled, a multisectoral plan for state and civil society is needed to better combat the issue.

To this end, an oversight committee, the National Commission on Gender Based Violence, was established to advise the various sectors how to respond to domestic violence. The committee comprises: PS Ministry of National Mobilization, Director of Social Development, Co-ordinator Gender Affairs Division, Director Social Protection Division, Director Child Development Division, Chief Education Officer, Commissioner of Police, Chief Medical Officer, President National Council of Women, President SVG Human Rights Association, President Family Court, Honourable Attorney General, Director of Public Prosecutions and Director of National Commission on Crime Prevention.(CB)

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