Convicted rapists named in the sex offenders register will find it impossible to get jobs outside Nigeria or travel abroad, an official of Nigeria’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), Juliana Joseph, has said.
The register will be launched on Monday in Abuja as part of efforts by the Nigerian government, with support from the European Union in a project implemented by the British Council, to help track sexual offences 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 offences or those that have been convicted of rape will be written on it, in separate places.
“Employers of labour 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 centres, 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 to bring 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 centres. 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 centres.
“Those who want investigation and care for the survivors of sexual assaults, bring them to those centres after reporting to the police station. The police will bring the survivor to the centre. 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.