Young sex offenders should be excluded from the proposed Sex Offenders Registry (S.O.R).
So recommends the Samoa Law Reform Commission (S.L.R.C.) in a report which has already been tabled to Parliament for consideration.
A copy of the report has been obtained by the Samoa Observer.
One of the many recommendations point out that “the Legal Framework should ensure that sex offenders that have been convicted of registrable offences in the Youth Court should be excluded from registration in the S.O.R.
“Alternatively the Court may exercise discretion to exclude a sex offender convicted in the Youth Court from registration in the S.O.R, unless it is satisfied that the offender has a persuasive pattern of serious sexual offending and that there is a high risk that the offender will commit a similar offence in future,” the report reads.
The Commission also considers that a further conviction of that same offender of a registrable offence as an adult, should be categorised on the higher end of severity (as a repeat offender), with a longer registration duration period.”
In their context of recommendations, the S.L.R.C notes that the Legal Framework should include a mandatory review by the implementing agency of the operation and effectiveness of the S.O.R and it should be no later than three years following enactment.
The Ministry of Police has been the proposed agency to administer the registry.
Another issue highlighted in the report are the challenges preventing the Auafa Mau database from being fully operational.
S.L.R.C recommends the need for this to be addressed and for a clear timeframe set for when it will be fully operational.
“The Auafa Mau database could be used as the platform for the technology component of a S.O.R, as well as on processes relating to provision of information, access and confidentiality of information, and security classifications.”
Also data and statistics on sexual offending and re-offending should be collated and regularly updated by relevant government ministries (such as Police and Justice and Court Administration so the government is fully and properly informed on any decision it makes in addressing the prevalence of sexual crimes.
“Such information should be entered onto the Auafa Mau Database, once that facility is completed and operational.”
“The Legal Framework should provide that the information on the S.O.R should not be made publically available.
“However, information on a S.O.R relating to serious recidivist sex offenders, for example where children or people with disabilities are victimized, should be made publically available.
“This may be done by requiring information about offenders to be automatically transferred to a public part of the S.O.R when there is serious repeat offending by that offender.
“Alternatively the Court could be given discretion when sentencing a serious repeat offender, to order that the information may be made publicly available if there is a pervasive pattern of serious sexual offending and a high risk to re-offending, upon an application by prosecution.”
Also the S.O.R should require personal information of a sex offender on a S.O.R to be kept strictly confidential, and that such information may only be made available to an Approved Agency in limited circumstances.
Another recommendation is the identification of registrable offences, grouping of such offences, and the duration of registration of such offences which should be carried out by the Attorney General’s Office, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration, the Ministry of Police, the Ministry for Corrections Services and the Office of the Ombudsman.
“However the Commission expresses the preference that registrable offences should include serious sexual offences such as rape and other sexual offences of similar severity.
“Sexual offences that are considered less serious, for example voyeurism, adultery and sodomy should not be registrable offences.
“The group containing more severe sexual offences should result in a longer registration period, than the group containing less severe sexual offences.
“Recidivist sex-offenders, child sex offenders, and sex offenders of severely intellectually disabled persons should be considered on the higher end of severity with a longer registration period.”
Regarding sex offence outside of Samoa, S.L.R.C recommends that they should be registered on the S.O.R.
Also an offender convicted of a sexual offence outside of Samoa who is convicted in Samoa of another sexual offence should be treated as a repeat offender in regards registration requirements.
The Criminal Deportee Policy should be reviewed in order to improve and strengthen national policies on the arrival, rehabilitation and reintegration of criminal deportees.
S.L.R.C also recommends that Criminal offences should be created to punish non compliance with S.O.R reporting requirements (including updating information) and confidentiality requirements.
“If the offender was convicted in a foreign jurisdiction of a sexual offence and is transferred to Samoa to serve their sentence and was serving the sentence for that offence that became a registrable offence when the S.O.R was established.”