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Chief Justice Makes Submission

Chief Justice Makes Submission
Standing Committee members on justice, law and human rights, (from left), Brij Lal, Semesa Karavaki, Matai Akauola, Chief Justice Anthony Gates, Standing Committee chairman Ashneel Sudhakar and Mikaele Leawere at the Parliament Committee Room in Suva on April, 23, 2018. Photo: Losirene Lacanivalu
April 24
12:15 2018

The Registration of Sex Offenders Bill is expected to be one of the most difficult that has come before the Fijian Parliament.

This was the view given by Chief Justice Anthony Gates in his submission to the parliamentary Standing Committee on Justice, Law and Human rights.

Chief Justice Gates said the Bill has some difficult issues that have to be considered such as;

What is the cutoff point?; and

When can somebody who is being rehabilitated resume his or her normal life and assist in the community as against those cases where we know that someone elderly has interfered with children within the household?

Chief Justice Gates said he didn’t think there was an increase in the offences, but that people were now coming forward and reporting the offences.

He said sexual offences were still a problem.

Chief Justice Gates said: “It seems to me we want to keep off the registry somebody who is entitled to a life after making childish and teenage stupid mistakes and only have on the register those people who society must be warned of.

“How that can be contained and what expert evidence one can receive on those areas is not for me to say.”

He said those under the age of 12 were very young and something the House would have to consider was how this was going to be held, its psychological point.

“What about those who commit the sex offence in their teen years, is that a warning that they might go on to commit the crime in 30 years?

“Is this where you have a cutoff point or an application to the registrar or commissioner to have the name removed, which could be an applicable point to court?

“A parent may have a child in primary school and some staff may have a background. As a parent would you want to know about that before the staff is engaged? Whether this is significant?

“Whether there is a time there has been nothing heard and the name should be removed from the register?”

Chief Justice Gates said the House needed to be careful in keeping the legislation.

“We need to be very careful that we are keeping this kind of legislation for more serious ones where we need to be aware that this person cannot be 100 per cent trusted we have to think about the children.”

He added that the House would have plenty of time no doubt for debate in Parliament and it was probably not one to rush.

Edited by Epineri Vula

Feedback: losirene.lacanivalu@fijisun.com.fj

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