Gov’t working to overhaul sexual offences act

The Government of Guyana has hired a consultant to continue to make changes to the country’s 2010 sexual offences Act which is in dire need of reform, to reflect the evolving society, as well as to increase its effectiveness.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, SC, said the works are underway to facilitate the overhauling of the Act and the expansion of the legislation to cover areas that should fall under its ambit.

 In this regard, the AG said the consultant will begin work shortly. Fortunately we were able to get the very person who drafted the act some ten years ago to resume working on the act with a view of correcting whatever gaps we discovered in the legislation and whatever weaknesses there are.”

Meanwhile, in a further representation of the government’s zero-tolerance policy for domestic violence, the AG said the family violence bill intended to replace the country’s domestic violence legislation, is currently in its finalisation stage and will be made available to the public soon.

“Domestic violence, sexual abuse, and related matters continue to be a problem in our country, and we have to be aware of these issues and continuously work to address them,” he highlighted.

The Ministry of Human Services and Social Security has stated that the government will be overhauling the ‘Domestic Violence Act’ of 1996, with some 40 proposed amendments, aimed at addressing all forms of violence.

The proposed amendments include the expansion of the current Domestic Violence Act, which encompasses the definition of domestic violence. It also provides for updated penalties for breach of protection orders and the inclusion of batterer intervention programmes and counselling as remedies under the law.

Further, work has begun on an inquiry into an initiative that will study and examine the cases of femicide that have occurred in Guyana over the past five years.

Femicide is the killing of girls of women, particularly by men, on account of their gender. The word is also used to encompass the killing of women by their intimate partners and family members.

AG Nandlall explained that the issues have to be analysed from a  sociological and scientific perspective, “… look at the trends and examine the possible causes and all the factors that may be relevant in order for us to detect root causes. When that study is completed, it will produce a report which we will then look at carefully and studiously to draw from it possible solutions.”

These are all projects that will be explored through an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) loan, to advance the government’s legislative agenda.