Nigeria has officially launched a 'Sex Offender Register'. The sex offenders register has been created in collaboration with The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), the Nigerian ministry of humanitarian affairs and other foreign stakeholders.
Nigeria's Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, was present at the official launch ceremony yesterday, Monday, November 25, 2019.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Nigerian minister for humanitarian affairs, Sadiya Farouq said:
"The register will serve as a strategy to stop those engaged in violence against women."
According to Juliana Joseph, an official of Nigeria's Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), convicts in Nigeria's sex offender register will find it challenging to travel abroad or get jobs there.
The register will be available online to better help the public, state bodies, and police conduct background checks and identify repeat offenders, the Premium Times reports.
The sex offender register was opened with support and endorsement from the Nigerian government, the United Nations and the British Council, to help track sexual offenses in Nigeria.
Ms. Joseph, who manages the SARC in Kaduna State, also said the register contains the names of alleged sexual offenders once investigation suggests possible cases of rape involving the accused persons.
"The SOR will be kept in Nigeria where the names of people who have been alleged to be perpetrators of sexual offenses or those that have been convicted of rape will be written on it, in separate places.
"Employers of labor go there to find out if the name of the proposed employee is in the register. It is supposed to be a naming and shaming register
"People will see that once their names are on the register, even leaving the country becomes difficult. Other countries will always search for the names on the register. Once your name is there, you will not be able to go to school or travel freely abroad. Once your name goes in there, you are finished for life," Ms Joseph said.
She added that the register, which is domiciled with the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), will have its details on a website where people all over the world can reach it
Ms. Joseph said the register is being made possible with support from partners in various agencies across the country, namely; the SSS, police, correctional centers, as well as all the people working on sexual and gender-based violence in Nigeria and beyond.
Regarding its sustainability, Ms. Joseph said the actors responsible for checking Nigeria's Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) are already partners in the register.
"And they will be the ones to generate names. If for example; as I work with the Sexual Assault Referral Centre, if a person brings a complaint against you and the police investigate and we discover a likely case of rape, we will go to court and if you are convicted, then your name goes in there.
"It's not automatic that once your name is mentioned in an allegation, then your name is before everyone. No. When you are accused, your name goes to the category of the alleged perpetrators," Ms. Joseph says.
For those willing to report alleged rape, Ms. Joseph said the procedure remains the same with what it has always been. She said the various state actors, starting with the police, have already been involved in bringing cases worthy of mention in the register to them.
"The first port of call is the Nigerian police. For example, in Kaduna State, where I am domiciled, we have four sexual assault referral centers. So in each senatorial zone, you have one each. In the Northern and southern senatorial zones, you have one each. In the metropolis, you are two sexual assault centers.
"Those who want investigation and care for the survivors of sexual assaults bring them to those centers after reporting to the police station. The police will bring the survivor to the center. If a case is established, then they go to court. And the rest is as we have said," Ms Joseph said.
Section 1(4) of the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act 2015 provides for the creation of a register for convicted sexual offenders which shall be accessible to the public.
About 'Sex Offender Register'.
- The register will contain the names of all those prosecuted for sexual violence in Nigeria since 2015.
- The records will be available online to better help the public, state bodies, and police conduct background checks and identify repeat offenders.
- Suspects who are cleared will also be recorded in a part of the register only available to law enforcement agencies, amid concerns by campaigners that the majority of sexual offenders escape prosecution due to failings in the justice system.
- Ordinary citizens will be able to access the register, which is managed by Nigeria's National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking Persons (NAPTIP) and is funded mainly by the European Union.
Source(s): Premium Times, FabWoman, Al Jazeera
Header Image Credit: Premium Times