The House of Representatives on Tuesday (December 11) approved the Sexual Offences (Registration of Sex Offenders) Regulations, 2012, which will establish and operate the sex offender register and registry. Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, noted that all well thinking Jamaicans have agonised over the brutal sexual offences committed against women, girls and young boys by “monstrous depraved individuals within our society.” “I support these regulations, as a part of the efforts to provide greater security to the public, especially our children and young people, to monitor sex offenders, reduce the chances of repeat offences, facilitate the rehabilitation of sex offenders and make sure that all of us, as citizens, are made aware of the atrocities on an ongoing basis,” she said. Ms. Hanna also stated her support for the immediate activation of the register and registry so that persons convicted of a specified offence under the Sexual Offences Act can be registered and the relevant data collected. “The information is critical to the monitoring of strategies and the rehabilitation schemes in respect of sex offenders,” she noted. She also informed that the Commissioner of Corrections, who is responsible for the day-to-day management of the registry and maintenance of the register, has already identified the location of the central registration centre for the registry, and the requisite office equipment and staff. In terms of statistics, the Office of the Children’s Registry received 7,245 reports of sexual abuse against children during the period of 2007 to 2011. The highest number of cases was reported in 2011. Member of Parliament for Central Clarendon, Pearnel Charles argued that the Sex Offender Registry should be kept by the police rather than the Department of Corrections. He also contended that the regulations, in their present form, give a high level of confidentiality in favour of the rapists and makes persons in an official capacity, who reveals such information, liable for fine or imprisonment. Mr. Charles said that the regulations should be withdrawn and the debate suspended to allow for a review. In his response, Attorney General, Hon. Patrick Atkinson, saidthe comment that the legislation is being used to protect rapist are “specious, unwarranted and it is a statement that is absolutely untrue.” He noted that only the designated keeper of the records is allowed to inform victims or their guardians of the whereabouts of an offender. The Attorney General further noted that the passing of the regulations will not be delayed, noting that the Sexual Offences Act was passed in 2009. The regulations were passed in the Senate in November.