Before the end of the year the government will bring stiffer legislation for child predators, according to Minister of National Security, Dr. Bernard Nottage.
He told the Bahama Journal yesterday, however, that the law – entitled Marco’s Law – will not be crafted by his ministry.
“The thrust for laws to deal with social problems come under the Ministry of Social Services,” he said.
“My particular interest has to deal with the experiences that dealt with the death of 11-year-old Marco Archer who lived in my constituency. When the minister of Social Services, [Melanie Griffin] comes with their package of amendments to the Child Protection Act, which they are working on them now, Marco’s Law will be enacted. Hopefully we can do that before the end of the year.”
Archer, a Columbus Primary student, went missing on September 23.
His badly decomposed body was found five days later in an upscale portion of New Providence.
Many Bahamians have called for a national sex offender registry over the years and most recently following Marco’s brutal death.
“I hear the arguments that are being raised against it, but we have to determine whether the individual rights of convicted sex offenders are to be held above the rights of ordinary little children who are simply walking the streets,” Dr. Nottage said shortly after the incident in the House of Assembly.
“Should they be subjected to the torture that this young man was subjected to? If the law is not changed the social media will do it. I think it would be better if we had a national registry and we can debate whether it should be available only to the police or to the general public.”
The Journal has learnt that the law will increase the penalty for sexual offences against children.
The Journal understands that the new law will also contain a provision that states that convicted offenders are not released from prison until they have served their full prison sentences and that they receive evaluation, treatment and counselling while incarcerated.
Another provision will focus on whether such offenders are a threat to society.
If that is determined, then measures, laid out in the law, will be enforced so that the sexual offenders can be monitored closely after they are released from prison.
Marco’s family told the media at the time, that it was distressed by how investigators handled the case.
Relatives said when they went to report Marco missing officers did not immediately begin searching for him and did not seem to make it a priority.
However, Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade denied that was the case and said he was made aware of the investigation from the beginning.