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Botswana moves to register, monitor sexual offenders

MPHO MOKWAPE
Yandani Boko
The proposed Sexual Offenders Registry Bill if signed into law will help track and register sexual offenders who have been convicted in and outside the country.

The drafted Bill’s main objective is to come up the sexual offenders registry Act that will in the long run provide registration of sexual offenders, monitoring and matters concerning registered offenders, among other factors.

The Bill came into effect following the seating of the winter Parliament where a concern was raised about high numbers of Gender-Based Violence incidents in the country.

Member of Parliament for Mahalapye East Yandani Boko came up with a motion seeking for Parliament to advise the President to set up a commission of inquiry on Gender-Based Violence, rape and other sexual offences, as a matter of urgency in terms of the Commissions of Inquiry Act.

Though Boko wanted to withdraw the motion because he was not happy about the amendments that were suggested, it was passed with new amendments.

Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Kagiso Mmusi wants the Bill to be drafted into law so that sexual offenders could be known by the society and in work areas so that the society could be careful in dealing with GBV. 

According to the drafted Bill, the sexual offenders would be tracked through the registry by disclosing such conviction to a prospective or existing employer in an institution, entity or trade.

“A person who has been convicted of a sexual offence in Botswana or outside Botswana shall disclose such conviction to a prospective or existing employer in an institution, entity or trade that has vulnerable persons in its care or that provides service to such persons, upon applying for employment or within a reasonable time after his or her application for employment,” reads the Bill. Amongst the other things expected to take effect with the bill is the declaration of dangerous sexual offenders.

According to the drafted Bill the court may declare a person who has been convicted of a sexual offence, a dangerous sexual offender if the person had more than one conviction for the offence, been convicted of a sexual offence which was accompanied by violence or threat of violence or have been convicted of a sexual offence of a vulnerable person.

“A court may further order that as part of the sentence imposed, a dangerous sexual offender shall upon his or her release after serving the term of imprisonment be placed under

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long term supervision by an authorised person for the remainder of the sentence,” states the Bill.

Further Bill in relation to children and vulnerable persons, it states that an authorised officer shall not consider an application or approve an appointment of a person as a foster parent, kinship care-giver, adoptive parent or curator without determining whether the particulars of the applicant are recorded in the register in the country or outside.

Also, a person who after the Act has been passed applies to become a foster parent, kinship, an adoptive parent or curator is expected to disclose that he or she has been convicted of a sexual offence.

“An authorized person who contravenes any provision of this section, commits an offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding P100, 000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years, or to both,” states the Bill.

Still on children,  the Bill pointed out that in the event that where a person was a child at the time of the commission of the offence, the provision of Children’s Act would apply.

Furthermore, the Bill has also addressed the workplace in the event of employment of sexual offenders by targeted institutions.

The Bill outlines that a targeted institution would not knowingly employ or allow a person who had been convicted of sexual offence 20 years prior to the commencement of the Act to work or volunteer his or her services in the institution.

Amongst other things, the Bill explained that any person who fails to comply with the latter commits an offence and would be liable to a fine not exceeding P300, 000 or a prison term not exceeding five years while all institutions are expected to comply and apply to a Commissioner of Police for a certificate to ascertain whether the particulars of a person have been recorded.

On extra territorial jurisdiction, the bill states that a citizen or a person who permanently resides in Botswana who commits an act outside the country, which may be registered under the Act, if committed in the country commits an offence and would be liable to a relevant penalty under the Act.

Meanwhile the drafted Bill is expected to go through a referendum before it could be signed into law.



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