Minister of Social Care Steve Blackett has added his voice to the debate on a registry of sex offenders here to allow Barbadians easy access to information on convicted rapists and paedophiles.
Advocates of such a registry contend it would be an effective way to monitor sexual deviants and to protect children.
The idea has the backing of leading activists for the rights of children and women, as well as legal minds such as former Juvenile Court Magistrate Barbara Cooke-Alleyne.
Late last month a young woman who was the victim of an attempted rape made an emotional appeal for such a database, calling on the authorities to list “every man that ever raped a woman, every attempted rapist, every child molester, every man that touch a minor under the age of 16” in the registry.
Speaking Wednesday on the sidelines of the For Every Child Hope concert at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre to mark the 70th anniversary of the United Nations Children’s Fund, Blackett suggested he was in favour of a registry.
However, he advised that the authorities needed to “tread carefully” with such a move, labelling it a “double-edged sword” that could scar people for life, particularly in a small society like Barbados, and because it would affect mostly men.
The minister added that a sex offender’s registry should only apply to “someone who has stood trial and it was proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that they are guilty of the offence”.
Blackett also gave his backing to a recommendation by former magistrate and child rights advocate Faith Marshall-Harris for a separate court to hear child abuse cases.
“I am in favour of anything that can improve the dispensation of justice. Justice delayed is justice denied, and if a separate court is among the things listed to bring these cases to finality, I would support it,” he said.
Blackett said Government was continuing to work with Marshall-Harris on “a complete revamping and refashioning of our legislation that will include many new features governing how we protect our children”.
He said the new legislation remained a work in progress.