General — 28 October 2017 — by Adele Ramos
Establishment of sex offender registry lags behind 4 years

BELIZE CITY, Tues. Oct. 24, 2017-On October 1, 2013, Minister of Human Development, Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation and United Democratic Party member for Port Loyola, Anthony “Boots” Martinez tabled legislative amendments to the Belize Criminal Code which were touted as paving the way for the establishment of a national sex offender registry for Belize, amid reports of rising sex crimes. Today, more than four years later, that registry has yet to be established.

Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ret’d Colonel George Lovell, told Amandala, when we asked him about the matter today, that the Government of Belize is still doing the groundwork to determine exactly what model it will adopt.

The enabling amendment was tabled back in October 2013. The provisions had included 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.

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

Amandala was advised, when we contacted the National Committee for Families and Children this morning, that the initiative to establish the registry is being led by the National Security Council, which is led by Prime Minister Dean Barrow.

According to Lovell, the point of contact for the establishment of the registry is the Belize Police Department. He told us that they are still in the process of putting together the design, and consideration is being given to how that information would be made public, as well as the legal ramifications that would have to be considered in the process.

Another element that is being considered is capturing sex offender information for foreigners who enter Belize. Under United States law, registered sex offenders are generally required to report to authorities and to inform them when they move out of their jurisdiction.

Lovell said that in some countries, registered sex offenders travelling from other countries are denied entry. However, that is not the case with Belize, and so Belizean authorities would have to work along with foreign authorities to capture such persons of interest who may enter our jurisdiction—since they have, at times, infamously entered our jurisdiction, where they continued to perpetrate sex crimes, even against vulnerable children.

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