Thursday, September 22, 2005

Alvarez raises alarm on children sex abuse cases

GGR fifth anniversary

Felix Alvarez - Chairman of the Gibraltar equality rights group GGRGibraltar Government must live up to the European Convention of Human Rights and implement persuasive judgments of the European Court into local law, GGR chairman Felix Alvarez said yesterday.

Addressing the press on the fifth anniversary of the GGR’s creation, Mr Alvarez also sounded the alarm in respect of sexual offences against children and reiterated his call for the setting up of a Sex Offenders Register locally along the lines of UK.

He also quoted research carried out by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children in England and Wales, suggesting there are 46 child sex offenders out of every 100,000 population.

“If we extrapolate that to Gibraltar,” he said, “we end up with anything between 13 to 14 individuals. And the worry is that the figure could be even higher in Gibraltar because this is a weak jurisdiction and we don’t have a Sex Offender’s Register.”

Mr Alvarez also argued that as a society Gibraltar still finds it difficult to discuss such subjects.

“Paedophiles thrive in such environments and find them attractive – we make it easier for them,” he declared.

On broader issues Mr Alvarez strongly criticised Chief Minister Peter Caruana on various counts. He said political leadership “requires considerable more than negotiating the question of sovereignty” and said this had become “a smokescreen” for doing nothing about social issues which continue to remain pending on the Rock.

“We require leadership in social rights and a socially responsible Government interested in the needs of ordinary people not just the well-off.”

Mr Alvarez said that although they had started off in 2000 as a gay rights campaign group “taking gay rights out of the dark corners of silence and taboo,” in 2005 they had become a wider Equality and Human Rights organisation since “more and more civil and human rights issues are being brought to us for attention.”

The GGR chairman also referred to a prevailing “atmosphere of fear in some quarters in voicing dissent or disagreement with the authorities” in case of reprisals. He referred to examples such as “possible refusal to award a grant applied for, withdrawal of Government advertising or funding, withdrawal of media privileges as a journalist.”

He said the perception of intimidation in the local community was increasing even if
this “may respond more to concern than to reality.”

In respect of European Convention of Human Rights, Mr Alvarez said that social agents, and others like the Bar Council and Opposition must “relentlessly press” for the incorporation of the Convention into the statute books.

Mr Alvarez said the GGR will continue to act as an independent voice on Equality and Human Rights in Gibraltar, adding:

“We will say the things that need to be said and without fear. And that takes courage and it takes very hard work and it takes a great deal of determination 24/7.”


Related Articles and Links:

Full Text of the Chairman's and Executive Committee Members' Speeches can be seen here.

15 September 2005 - GGR slams draft Constitution as just a "new justification"

European Convention of Human Rights

National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children

Gibraltar Government

View Images in our Gibraltar Pictures Gallery

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