KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Jamaica task force established to examine the increasing incidence of violence against children will recommend to Prime Minister Bruce Golding that Parliament immediately debate the Sexual Offences Bill.
This proposed legislation fell off the Order Paper when Parliament was dissolved in 2007 for the general election.
The Gleaner has been reliably informed that the task force will also recommend to Prime Minister Golding that the ‘Ananda Alert’, a response network for missing children, be taken on board.
The Government was moved into action after a wave of attacks in recent weeks against children.
Sources told The Gleaner the task force is in favour of a Sex Offenders Registry, which is set out in the Sexual Offences Bill as a means of monitoring sex offenders.
Golding had convened a meeting with the attorney general, the ministers of national security, health and information, culture, youth and sports, as well as representatives of the Child Development Agency and the Office of the Children’s Advocate, to review the state of security of the nation’s children.
The task force was instructed to review the institutional arrangements to care and protect children.
Police statistics show that more than 56 children have been murdered since the start of the year.
The nation’s attention was recently focused on the plight of vulnerable children after several horrific crimes.
In one instance, Ananda Dean, an 11-year-old St Andrew girl, disappeared after leaving school for home.
A body believed to be that of Ananda was found a week later, but the police are still awaiting DNA test results to confirm the identity.
Last week in Parliament, Golding said, “Violence against innocent and defenceless children is an outrage.”
Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller echoed Golding’s sentiments and asked that a motion she has on Parliament’s Order Paper be treated with urgency.
Simpson Miller wants Parliament to debate and implement the recommendations of a joint select committee which said that sections of the Offences Against the Person Act and the Incest Act must be merged and a modern Sexual Offences Bill be created.
Lobby group Hear the Children’s Cry last week urged the Government to establish a missing child emergency response system, cloning the ‘Amber Alert’ model in the United States.
Task force recommendations:
Proposed legislation would expand beyond blood relatives to include adult or guardian in position of trust.
If a jury is unable to deliver a guilty verdict for rape or attempted rape, it will be permitted to substitute a verdict for new offences where appropriate. With this amendment, an accused may be imprisoned for carnal abuse, indecent assault or grievous sexual assault if there is not enough evidence to convict for rape