Bahamas Christian Council (BCC) President Bishop Delton Fernander said that while the council supports the implementation of a sexual offenders registry, he believes the government must inform the public first.
“The church has always been in support of the registry,” he said.
“We have also stakeholders who have been collaborating with the state and what that will entail.”
He added, “We want to be as careful as possible because minors just turning into adults could end up on the register as is in other jurisdictions doing the things that they think might just be casual fun or casual sex.
“So, we really, really have to first inform what gets you on the register and then also be mindful that not everyone on the register are violent offenders.
“I think one of the things we are guilty of is we roll things out without informing, without doing the nation the benefit of what it takes for the criteria and for you to get on the register, and also give the worst case scenario.
“It’s almost like a death sentence if you are ending up on the list. What are the criteria that got you here? And sometimes people end up on the list and it is through bad mistakes or bad choices in their life.”
The government’s Registration of Sexual Offenders Regulations 2019, which is now out for public consultation, proposes that the minister makes a disclosure to the public to “heighten their awareness of the presence of the sexual offender in or near their area”.
After consulting with the commissioner of corrections and commissioner of police, the minister will be required to write to the police who will notify the public.
If an offender presents a risk of significant harm to the health or safety of a specific individual, the minister may notify that person of the release of that offender.
According to the regulations, an offender will be required to report to the registry that serves their area of residence within three days of release from lawful custody.
An offender will also be required to notify the registry of a change in address or name within seven days.
They will be required to report to a registration center every 11 to 12 months.