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What do we want?
The creation and maintenance of a Sex Offenders Registry at a Federal level, and within all 36 states is our aim
The main aim of a sex offenders register is for monitoring and tracking sex offenders following their release into the community. The Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act in Section 2 (4) provides for the establishment of a sex register which shall be maintained and accessible to the public. We suggest that states that have not yet adopted this law do so in order to establish a respective sex offenders register in their states.
This will serve as a basis for maintaining one as provided for by the Act. In 2011, the then Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Fayemi signed into law the gender based violence bill which provides for the establishment of a sex offenders register. Currently, the register is not strictly enforced because of there was a change in government but now that the Fayemi Government is in charge, things can start up from where he left by opening the register and filling it with names of people convicted with sexual offences. The Lagos state government recently established a sexual offences court and also has a sex offenders list. This is a step in the right direction.
- We suggest that the list should be updated regularly based on every conviction from the sexual offences Court.
- Awareness should also be created regarding this list as many are not aware that such list exists in the first place.
- The sex offenders list can take the form of a loose leaf, bound leaf or in digital form or all of the above for better safe keeping.
- In order to ensure accountability and transparency of the register, we suggest that a copy of the register should be kept in the State High Court’s registry/ database, at the police station and a selected non governmental agency that caters to victims of sexual assault. This makes it almost impossible for offenders from getting their names off the register and also prevent any tampering whatsoever with the list
- In the UK, an entry into the Sex Offenders Registry is accompanied by two follow up orders: a Sexual Risk Order – which can be used for lighter sentences, against people who have been known to spike drinks; and a Sexual Harm Prevention Order – which is issued by the police upon sentencing and restricts the offender in terms of working in places with children, in bars/clubs, hospitals or any setting where they hold a relationship of influence that can be used unduly.
- We understand that despite the harrowing numbers of rape instances that occur in our nation everyday, the number of convictions to reflect this is low. Therefore, we suggest that a Sexual Harm Prevention Order can be issued on cases that have been convicted before the court, but a Sexual Risk Order can be issued where proved cases with the relevant evidence have been reported to organisations such as ours – The Consent Workshop, WARIF, The Mabel Centre etc. So, such foundations upon receiving reports of incidents would report the names and collated evidence to the government body responsible to be issued a Sexual Risk Order [we need to find a way to ensure when we send in the names we are almost completely certain they committed the crime].
- A Sexual Risk Order would warrant fewer restrictions than the Sexual Harm Prevention Order, as the latter would be issued to convicted offenders. Further, we propose an adoption of the European method of limited public access. This means that the names would be kept on a website, but only the names of convicted offenders i.e. those issued a Sexual Harm Prevention Order would be available for public access. Names of double offenders or those at a high risk of re-offence would also be available for public access, as is done in Canada. Names of those issued a Sexual Risk Order would still be kept in a database, but this need not be available for public access unless in cases of employment.
- Further, to ensure a structure of checks and balances where no names are added or removed for illicit gain, we propose that a copy of every state’s register be held with a federal government body, and an updated copy at one or two trusted NGO’s.
- Moreso, names would not be able to be removed from a register until a set number of years and only through an appeal to a board with 2 government officials and 2 representatives from the aforementioned trusted NGOs, upon an agreement by all present. A application of request for appeal, and thus any possibility for one’s name to be removed, must be accompanied with proof of rehabilitation.
- To accommodate our proposal, and ensure the effectiveness of the aims which is a holistic approach to combating the dangers of rape culture in our society, we stress the importance of education particularly for sexual offenders
We implore on the Federal Government of Nigeria and its elected assembly to consider this crucial step in the battle against rape culture.
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