A local woman’s attempt to create a “sex offender registry” for the Cayman Islands using a Facebook page has apparently led to a police investigation, the Caymanian Compass has learned.
Sandra Catron confirmed she started the page earlier this month in an attempt to inform the public about convicted sex offenders who had been recently convicted, as well as those who have been recently released from prison. Ms Catron said she is also allowing individuals with information about sex offenders to post on the site, within certain limits.
“I have decided we can no longer remain silent on the issue,” Ms Catron said. “Many [rape] victims from years gone by have come forward and are providing content and details of their assaults. Sexual abuse and rape is a deep-[seated] issue in the islands and we must take all steps to eradicate it. The sex offenders registry is only one such tool.”
The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, while not identifying Ms Catron specifically, have released a statement to indicate officers are looking into the matter.
“We can confirm that we are investigating the posting of the material on Facebook. The publishing or broadcasting of information which could identify a victim of rape is an offence.”
The Cayman Islands Criminal Procedure Code in section 31 reads: “After a person is accused of a rape offence, no matter likely to lead members of the public to identify a woman as the woman against whom the offence is alleged to have been committed shall be published in a written publication available to the public or be broadcast, except as authorised by a direction of the court.”
The penalty for such activity, according to the Criminal Procedure Code [2011 Revision] is $1,000 per offence.
The idea of a public or restricted sex offender registry being operated within the Cayman Islands is not new.
The Sex Offender Registry Bill (2009), was put out for a 60-day public consultation in February 2009 by then-Health Minister Anthony Eden. The proposal, which never made it to a vote in the Legislative Assembly, aimed to create the islands’ first list tracking those convicted of sex crimes, including rape, indecent assault, defilement and incest.
However, the bill as envisioned at the time was not a public registry. 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 granted access to the registry or who provided information from the registry to an unauthorised party could be imprisoned for up to five years upon conviction, according to the draft bill.
Cayman Islands Attorney General Sam Bulgin said in 2009 that the sex offender registry bill as proposed faced a “difficult road” as written. Mr. Bulgin said at the time that he was concerned about simply cutting and pasting similar legislation from larger jurisdictions, such as the United States or the United Kingdom.
The attorney general said he had heard comments in certain quarters about “the utility of such a measure in a small country”.
“Is someone who lives in Bodden Town going to register with the police station in West Bay because they are going to spend the weekend there?” Mr. Bulgin said. “The question is whether it is workable.”
Ms Catron, in 2011, brought a signed petition on a sex offender registry to the deputy governor’s office. The petition did not have enough signatures to trigger a referendum under the 2009 Constitution Order.