The pair has drafted a treaty and accompanying handbook, detailing the necessary policy changes and end goals of the CCASC.
They intend for it to work in tandem with the US International Megan’s Law to Prevent Demand for Child Sex Trafficking (HR 4573).
They are seeking consultation from the United Nations, as well as the US Department of State, to perfect the policy prior to it being signed into international law.
“From our research Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica are the only two countries in the region with sex offender registry policies implemented,” said Bhagan.
He asserted that this was insufficient and that local and regional registries were necessary, because sex offenders often cross borders to satisfy their predilections.
He spoke with the local Interpol office and was informed that notices about registered sex offenders are already being issued based on recent deportation.
He notes that from CCASC’s research, there is no procedure in place to utilise the information on the TT sex offender registry, because it only deals with crimes committed in TT jurisdiction.
As such, registered sex offenders from elsewhere are free to roam in our region almost unhindered.
The Caribbean Treaty Against Sex Crimes will mandate all Caribbean territories to implement local sex offender registries.
These local registries will subsequently be amalgamated to form one regional sex offender registry, which will be available to Interpol and other international bodies.
Local and regional authorities will be notified every time people who have committed sex crimes enter the Caribbean.
They will be placed in the registry and their behaviours monitored.
Timely communication between authorities in the region to which registered offenders travel will be facilitated and the relevant international bodies informed, whenever they leave for other jurisdictions.
Bhagan and Maharaj note that some offenders displaying paedophilic behaviour are abuse victims themselves and believe that true justice will include the adoption of policies that are both rehabilitative and preventative.
One example they gave was a programme in Germany which provides a support system for people who struggle with paedophilic inclinations.
Statistics seem to prove that programmes such as this one work and as such, the draft treaty also encourages them.
Further, the Caribbean treaty Against Sex Crimes ultimately seeks to aid in increasing the conviction rate of offenders.
Victims’ advocacy and support services are essential to this.
Because victims rarely report sex crimes, it adds a layer of complexity to the problem of identifying sex offenders.
The draft treaty provides for these centres to be opened in Caribbean territories.
These will aid in the criminal justice process, by helping to care for victims of gender-based violence and sex crimes.
The Organisation for Abused and Battered Individuals (Oabi) has, under the leadership of Sherna Alexander-Benjamin, opened one such centre in TT .
The Victims’ Advocacy Service Centre and Office (Vasco) at Bellesmythe Street, Curepe, is a supplementary agency that provides victims with a safe environment to address the crimes perpetrated against them.
It functions as a bridge between law enforcement, medical professionals and the judiciary, to facilitate the administration of justice.
At Vasco counselling is available and there is a focus on victims’ well being and rehabilitation.
Training for civil society is also available.
Recently CCAS C and Oabi partnered with the University of the West Indies, St Augustine Law Society, to host a panel discussion.
Feature speakers included Bhagan, who discussed the treaty and handbook, Alexander-Benjamin who spoke on the success of the Vasco and counter-terrorism expert, Paul Nahous, who discussed human trafficking, as well as why he supports the CCAS C’s initiatives.
Maharaj and Bhagan continue to be driven by morale and understand that justice is multi-faceted.
They envision a safe, fair world where people can be free to be their whole, best selves and intend to do all in their power to achieve this.
Further info can be found at www.zandoli.
org/ccasc.html and oabivoices.org.