Sex offender register proposed

Convicted sex offenders would be required to register their names, home addresses, workplace, and details of any property they own under a draft bill made public this week.

However, the public would not have access to the Cayman Islands sex offender registry under the proposal.

The Sex Offender Registry Bill (2009), put out for a 60-day public consultation on Monday, aims to create the islands’ first list tracking those convicted of sex crimes including rape, indecent assault, defilement, and incest.

The proposal also makes ‘unnatural offences’ as defined under the Penal Code, i.e. sodomy, a sex offence for which one would have to register. Administering drugs to a person, presumably in a ‘date rape’ situation, is also considered a registering offence.

In addition to those convicted of sex crimes, individuals who are found not criminally responsible for sex offences on account of a mental disorder would also have to be placed on the registry.

Precisely who might maintain the registry is not clear. Several agencies including the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, the Department of Community Rehabilitation (formerly probation and after care), and the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs are all suggested as possibilities in the draft consultation bill.

Only those agencies identified under the proposal, and any other approved authority may access the registry. Access can only be granted in the ‘interest of the due administration of justice.’

Anyone who grants access to the registry or who provides information from the registry to an unauthorized party can be imprisoned for up to five years upon conviction, according to the draft bill.

Sex offenders assigned to the registry may have their photographs and fingerprints taken, and may be asked to provide a DNA sample to the agency maintaining the registry.

According to the draft proposal, a convicted sex offender would have to re-register with the administering government agency once a year until their registration requirements legally expire. They would also have to provide updated information within 48 hours if their address, employment or any other personal data provided changed.

Failing to re-register or register a change would result in a prison sentence of up to five years on conviction.

How long someone must stay on the sex offender registry depends on the length of a sentence following conviction, according to the draft proposal.

Those who are sentenced to more than 30 months in prison would be kept on the registry for life; a prison term between six months and 30 months would mean ten years on the registry, six months or less in prison means seven years on the registry, and those sex offenders who receive a non-custodial sentence would have to register for five years.

Juvenile sex offenders who are cautioned under the Youth Justice Law (2003) would have to be kept on the registry for 30 months. Otherwise, registration periods would generally be one-half of the required registering periods for adult offenders.

Those listed on the sex offender registry must notify law enforcement agencies of their intention to leave the Cayman Islands at least three days prior to doing so, according to the draft bill. They must provide travel itineraries, accommodation and telephone contacts, and the reason they are travelling. If the travel is for an emergency, notification must occur within 24 hours.

Travel within the Cayman Islands is also restricted. The sex offender must provide similar details to the registry as they would for out of country trips, but the notification period only need be 24 hours before departure.

Health Minister Anthony Eden, who introduced the Sex Offender Registry Bill (2009) in Legislative Assembly Monday, acknowledged that his ministry had received requests to expand the sex offender registry to include people convicted of other serious criminal offences.

Mr. Eden said his office was considering such proposals, but had not placed them in the text of the draft consultation bill.