The director of a student sexual and reproductive health organization, SayWhat, says calls by a Bulawayo High Court judge for a national sex offender register can be implemented, but Zimbabwe should get tough on sentencing for sexual offences.
Jimmy Wilford, director of SayWhat, was reacting to Bulawayo judge justice Martin Makonese’s statement in which he called for the setting up of the register to ensure the tracking of offenders found guilty of sexual offenses against children and mental patients.
According to the Chronicle newspaper, Justice Makonse said “all offenders and sexual predators must be brought to book. I propose that a national database be created for all persons convicted of child sexual abuse for the purposes of monitoring sexual vultures who tend to re-offend once released from prison.”
The register would be similar to what is used in countries such as South Africa and United States, which require offenders guilty of sexual crimes against children and mentally-ill patients to register on a nationwide list.
Wilford said first, policy and sentencing would be to stop its perpetual leniency on offenders found guilty.
“Let the judges come up with a system that ensures that anyone that has been sentenced for those 10 years can serve those 10 years, unlike a situation whereby you find a person that has been sentenced for 10, within a month or two months you find that person again within the community."
Jessie Majome, MDC formation of Morgan Tsvangirai Member of Parliament for Harare West, said the government has failed to implement key strategies that would assist in establishing frameworks to curb sexual crimes and gender based violence.
She said the strategy known as the Gender Based Violence Strategy for 2012-2015, recently expired without adequate implementation.
“If the government had implemented this strategy the Honorable Justice Makonese I’m sure would not need to be calling for that database, because that database would be clearly a central component of the research and data gathering and monitoring evaluation key result area.”
Majome said unfortunately, government’s failure leads to a significant failure in the fight against gender based violence.
A sex offender registry is a system in various countries designed to allow government authorities to keep track of the residence and activities of sex offenders, including those who have completed their criminal sentences.
The United States is the only country with a sex offender register that is accessible to the public. All other countries with registries are accessible to law enforcement and authorities working with children and mentally-disabled persons.
Meanwhile, advocates have increased calls for courts to hand out tougher sentences to convicted or suspected rapists, while calling against low bail postings given to suspected rapists.