“No form of violence can ever be excused in a society that wishes to call itself decent, but violence against children must surely rank as the most abominable expression of violence” - Nelson Mandela
Marco’s Alert pilot project successful yet no implementation
National Security Minister fails to understand importance of full implementation
Government agencies must do what is necessary to get the job done
DNA demands full implementation of law and enforcement of strict penalties
Swift justice for victims should be priority
Over the past few months the country has seen a rise in abduction and sexual assaults on children with the most recent case being that of an eight-year-old girl on Sunday March 3rd, 2019 and before that a three year old boy sometime in February. These are just the reported cases and it is only by the grace of God that these children did not lose their lives.
In 2016, the Mandatory Action Rescuing Children Operation (Marco’s) Law was enacted nearly five years later after the disappearance and murder of eleven-year-old Marco Archer with a commitment from the former Minister of National Security to move with haste for the implementation of the legislation inclusive of a Sexual Offences Registry and Alert system to be included. To date, Marco’s Alert pilot project has been tried and proven yet there has been no implementation of the system.
The Bahamas with all its resources and examples to draw from in neighboring countries such as the United States of America should not delay or hesitate any longer for the full implementation of both a Sexual Offenders Registry and alert system. Our children need and require the full protection of the law and they need it now! The moral fiber of our country is at stake, the future of our nation is in danger and thus far, our government has failed to provide the adequate precaution and protection for our children.
With the successful pilot project of Marco’s Alert behind us, one can only assume that the Minister of National Security has dragged his feet or simply fails to see the importance to move with urgency for the implementation of this most crucial law. Further, The Child Protection Act lays this law squarely at the feet of the Minister of National Security and The Commissioner of Police.
In May 2018, the Tribune reported that there were ‘differences’ between the Office of the Attorney General and the Ministry of National Security that prevented the full implementation of the Sexual Offences Act. Attorney General Carl Bethel indicated that the Act would have been fully enforced after the budget period of that year, yet here we are today and several violations of our children later without the promised protection.
We demand an end to the pointing of fingers and excuses and implore the relevant government agencies to get the job done. Although we may not be able to completely prevent violence against our children, we can make a concerted effort and cause offenders to think twice before they commit a crime.
The Democratic National Alliance is advocating for zero tolerance on this matter and we demand immediate action to the full extent of the law as it relates to the abduction and sexual violence on children. A report following Marco’s Alert should prompt swift justice for victims, stiff penalties and inclusion on the Sex Offenders Registry with no exceptions if or when the offender is released from prison.
Stephanie N. Lightbourne – President Women’s Alliance
Democratic National Alliance