One name that will justify the existence of a public sex offender website is the late Akile Chambers, for whom justice has not yet been found - because the perpetrator's name should be made available to the public.
So said Independent Senator Paul Richards during yesterday's Senate debate on the Sexual Offences (Amendment) bill. It provides for a public sex offenders registry website and a private registry for the T&T Police Service with deeper information on offenders.
Richards said there were several names he could call to justify both types of registers, "But I'll just call one and this one name will justify, particularly to me, the existence and maintenance of a public website: Akile Chambers. Akile Chambers."
"And that name should scare us all because of what happened to that child and the fact that to date, justice has not been found for that child!
"And that child is gone and his parents, friends and this country have not seen the perpetrators brought to light. And whoever that perpetrator is or those are - as there are suggestions it may have been more than one person - their names should be available to the public, so other children and families can be protected and be aware of who they are and where they are so that more vigilance can occur where people protecting children are concerned," Richards said.
He said he understood conversations about rights and privacy of those convicted.
However, he said, "To me, the protection of citizens, particularly children, much far outweigh the rights of people who went through the judicial system, got a fair trial, right of appeal and were found guilty of that type of crime. And I make no apology for that."
Richards said there is a long list of names of children who've been abused and for whom justice hadn't been found. He said the bill seemed short and there were some serious implications to parts.
He said UNC Senator Jayanti Lutchmedial was right that the job of gathering evidence and bringing people to justice isn't where it should be and senators should ensure protection if and when perpetrators are brought to justice.
Richards advocated for TTPS vigilance on any vigilante overreach and the danger of a location being known as a sex offender area if more than one offender lived there; or dangers of taunting/threats to their family.
Citing hacking of conglomerates and bank breaches, he called for systems to prevent cybercrime and hacking. Richards expressed concern about what could happen if a mischief-maker put a public official's name on the public sex offenders' website. He questioned penalties for non-compliance and authorities who breached confidentiality.
"We know we have runaway horses in TTPS," he said.
He also recommended public awareness programmes on the novel law.