Highlights — 01 October 2013 — by Adele Ramos

Minister of Human Development, Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation and United Democratic Party member for Port Loyola, Anthony “Boots” Martinez today tabled legislative amendments to the Belize Criminal Code that would pave the way for the establishment of a national sex offender registry for Belize so that authorities would have information needed to keep offenders away from children.

The amendment to Chapter 101 of the Laws of Belize, the Criminal Code, addresses sexual offenses against children, abduction, kidnapping, procurement, the age of criminal liability and witness protection.

Martinez noted that the number of reported cases of sex abuses has been steadily increasing and recent crime statistics from the police emphasize the same trend – and more particularly an increase in carnal knowledge cases.

He said that the legislative amendments would strengthen their effectiveness in prosecuting perpetrators. He also said that the proposed changes would provide equal protection for male and female children in carnal knowledge cases, as well as stiffer penalties for offenses. They also include provisions to protect persons with mental disabilities, he said.

In a statement today, the Special Envoy for Women and Children, Kim Simplis-Barrow, who has been a part of a five-year lobby, said, “…the existing law is also lacking in terms of properly defining the varied ways in which sexual abuse can be perpetrated against children.”

She noted that the bill addresses this by creating new offences with appropriate penalties.

“Other provisions include, expanding protections from sexual assault for persons with cognitive disabilities and mental illness to include males with these conditions; establishing a National Sex Offender Database and protecting witnesses from being influenced either directly or indirectly by alleged offenders or their agents,” Simplis-Barrow added.

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