By CELESTE NIXON
Tribune Staff Reporter
Nassau, The Bahamas
THE CHRISTIAN council has thrown its support behind the creation of a national sex offenders register.
Council president Rev Ranford Patterson said his members support many of the government's ideas for tackling crime - particularly its willingness to discuss tracking persons convicted of sexual crimes.
"We support all efforts to protect our children from sick sexual predators, be they heterosexuals or homosexuals," said Rev Patterson. "We call on family and friends to blow the whistle on known predators who need counselling and must be kept away from civil society."
According to Bishop Simeon Hall, the public tends to be more concerned about the rights of murderers and child molesters than the victims of crime.
He said: "When we talk about publishing a national sex offenders list, people seem to sympathise with the perpetrator instead of the little boy."
Rev Patterson said he believes it is important for the public to know the location of convicted sex offenders and others who might pose a danger to society, so parents can better protect their children.
Prime Minister Ingraham addressed the public on Monday evening on his government's strategic plan to combat what he described as the country's growing criminal element.
Along with amendments to the Bail Act, the laws governing the death penalty, and the Firearms and Dangerous Drugs Act, Mr Ingraham said the government would be willing to debate a sex offenders registry.
He also said the government intends to introduce new legislation for the control and regulation of pawnbrokers and second-hand dealers, such as "cash for gold and scrap-metal operators" to block the onward sale of stolen property.
In addition, Mr Ingraham said, efforts will be made to crack down on illegal firearms and weapons smuggling, and harsher penalties will be meted out to persons found in possession of illegal weapons.
Mr Ingraham also emphasised the need for greater community involvement in what he hopes will be a "new era of national volunteerism."
The council said it is extremely pleased with the crack-down on illegal firearms and the National Programme of Volunteerism, which will encourage Bahamians everywhere to "get involved."
Rev Patterson said the prime minister's speech was a sign that the government is serious about crime, and should be taken as a strong message to would-be criminals that no one is above the law.
"We are anxious to see the implementation of all those things raised, and we shall monitor them to ensure they are implemented," said Rev Patterson.
The council warned all persons "prone to angry confrontation, robbery, jealous rage and gun toting," that all criminal offences will be punished, and called on them to reconsider their behaviour.
October 10, 2011