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Sgt Valerie Hospedales of the Child Protection Unit of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service.

From January 31, this year, information on sexual offenders can be shown on an online website for the public to access their names, addresses, photographs and offences committed.

The Commissioner of Police can also publicise this information for the public to be aware and better protect themselves.

The new law also allows victims of sexual crimes to seek compensation from their attackers.

The Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs in a statement issued yesterday said the much-debated law took effect at the end of last month and marks the first time in history such an approach to dealing with sexual offences has been used in fighting the crime.

According to the ministry, “perpetrators of sexual crimes will face the full brunt of novel laws aimed at deterring, punishing and shaming rapists, paedophiles and those others with a propensity to commit sexual crimes.”

It added, “For too long the society has seen the rampant commission of sex crimes, including the most savage and brutal attacks against women, children and even the elderly. Statistics demonstrate that sexual crimes are the second-highest, after murder, before the High Courts of T&T.”

Only last month the police service held 29 persons for sexually related crimes mainly against children, which led to a total of 44 charges.

The police service said there has been a sharp increase in crimes against children.

In its statement, the ministry said the Government stands committed to striking against all forms of criminality and the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act, 2019 is yet another demonstration by this Government of its commitment to tackle hard crime through groundbreaking legislation.

It said through the act law enforcement will now be empowered to better monitor and track offenders who must frequently report to the police station and provide every essential detail about themselves, including their fingerprints and DNA.

And most strikingly victims of sexual crimes can seek compensation from the offender if they contract a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI).

The law also emphasises the protection of children by widening the category of persons who must mandatorily report cases of sexual abuse, failing which an offence is committed.

The ministry added before the laws that stood regarding the registration of sex offenders were inadequate, inconsistent and underutilised.

It said, “between the years 2000–2019, there were a total of 1, 693 persons convicted of sexual offences in T&T, yet zero of those persons were registered in a sexual offenders registry.”

The ministry said the new law signals a pellucid and strong warning to sexual predators that the Courts, Law Enforcement and the society are now “empowered to treat with them as justice for their vile and abhorrent crimes demand.”