As a result of the recent killing of nine year old Ariel Bhola of Frequente, Grand Anse St. George, Minister of Health, Nickolas Steele has announced that the ruling New National Party (NNP) administration is moving towards the establishment of a Sex Offenders’ Registry to help combat sexual abuse in Grenada.
Speaking to reporters in St. George’s, Minister Steele said that government has concluded that the move could be a positive step in helping to curb the issue of sex crimes and in particular child sexual abuse in the society.
The disclosure came against the backdrop of massive public outrage in the past two weeks over the rape and murder of 9-year old Ariel Bhola of Frequente in the south of the island by a 17-year old school drop-out.
According to the senior government minister, he has heard the calls from the public for action to be taken on the growing sexual abuse problem in the country and was giving total support for “the request for a Sex Offenders’ Registry”.
“… I am assured that steps have been put in place and there will be (an) announcement in our budget presentation by our Prime Minister”, he said.
“You can guarantee that that (will be) put in place for 2018. First and foremost is to make sure that the relevant resources are put in place and that is what our Prime Minister will put in place but we heard the calls and we all agree with the calls, we all fully support that”, he added.
Minister Steele went on: “The other part of it is to make sure that all of our stakeholders, social partners on the issue of sexual offences and issue of protecting our children in particular are on board”.
The Health Minister who is now the NNP Caretaker for the South St. George Constituency, offered condolences to the family and friends of young Ariel.
“I wish to speak simply of the tragedy of the innocent life (that) was taken through violent means. Her friends in school, her mother in particular, the grief they are going through, I too identify with and share deep and sincere sympathies on behalf of our Prime Minister,” he said.
Minister Steele sees the need for what he called “a societal effort” to prove to the world that this type of behaviour is not acceptable in Grenada.
“That is something that we must all … work together to ensure that this does not happen, to ensure that we as a people recognise and let the world know that this is not Grenada. It has happened in Grenada and we will put all necessary steps in place, one, to comfort the family and two, to make sure that Ariel did not die in vain and three, to do whatever is within our collective powers to ensure that this does not happen again,” he said.
The Minister singled out the role of the Child Protection Authority CPA) and other independent stakeholders involved in the fight against sexual abuse of minors.
CPA Director, Yvonne Dabreo who also addressed reporters was confident that everything will be put in place to ensure that persons who prey on young children are brought to justice.
She said: “No abuse is acceptable, what happened to Ariel should not happen to anyone and to no child. At the authority, we will continue to do whatever is in our power to ensure children live in a safe and secure environment and that perpetrators be brought to justice speedily.
“We know that there is quite a lot of constraints but as an authority, we have taken measures to ensure despite the challenges we are going to advocate to ensure our children are safe whether they are in their homes, whether they are at school, whether they are at the communities,” she added.