NSCOR Initiative

APCW initiative on National Child Sex Offender Register (NSCOR)

NSCOR Initiative

The trust was formed in the aftermath of a horrifying incident, which allegedly occurred at their ward’s prestigious Bangalore school in 2014, and many such similar incidents at other schools which followed suit.

The rising incidents of sexual offences against children warrants better safeguards to protect them from sexual offenders. Presently, there is a lack of an effective mechanism/system that will enable a quick and effective background verification of individuals working with children.

APCW, therefore, focused its efforts, towards the setting up of a centralized Child Sex Offender Registry (CSOR), which will maintain the list of all known child sex offenders. APCW intended to explore all available means to work with the government at state and central level to effectively implement CSOR in India.

The Trust proposed the setting up of a Child Sex Offenders Registry by the Government. Such a registry would act as a safeguard and prevent any known sex offender from being employed in any capacity and in any organization or profession, which involves access to or requires interaction with children, in any form.

APCW reviewed the many studies that has taken place related to child sex abuse across various parts of India. It was clear that child sex abuse, in India is widespread, and the numbers are beyond imagination. There was an urgent need to act and introduce more controls to tackle this menace.

To deal with child sexual abuse cases, the Government has brought a special law, namely for the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 to protect children from offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography. The Act is to be implemented with active participation of the States. Section 21(1) of the POCSO Act, 2012 requires mandatory reporting of cases of child sexual abuse to the law enforcement authorities, and applies to everyone including parents, doctors and school personnel. Failure to report a suspicion of child abuse is an offence under the Act.

POCSO, if implemented in its true spirit, can go a long way in ensuring higher reporting of cases of child sexual abuse. Proper investigation and competent prosecution lawyers might ensure a better rate of conviction. 

However, beyond conviction, it is essential to put in place, safeguards to prevent convicted sex offenders from gaining access to children. For this, an effective background verification process is essential and this warrants the need for a registry of sexual offenders to be maintained, which can further aid and enhance the objectives of the POCSO Act in safeguarding the interests of children.

ACPW recommendations for NCSOR

APCW therefore proposed to the government in 2015, to come up with a comprehensive act which mandates that

  1. A child sex offender registry is maintained, with the details of all convicted sex offenders.
  2. A convicted sex offender should not be employed in any capacity in any profession or with any organization, which involves access to or interaction with children. For ex – Schools Day Care employees / contractor, Housing colony / Apartment staff, House hold help etc.
  3. The prospective employer should be able to easily verify and validate whether the candidate is a convicted sex offender or not.

Amongst the many considerations that would be required to frame such an act, here are a few that APCW recommended:

  1. The nature of sexual offences that should mandate an entry into the register. For e.g. based on the grade of offence
  2. The stage of the judicial process, at which the entry will be made into the registry. For e.g. after charge sheet or after conviction. The time frame, post that stage, within which entry should be made to the registry.
  3. The time period for which the entry should be maintained in the register. For e.g. possibly based on the nature of the offense.
  4. The type of employment / stay restrictions that should be imposed on those with names in the registry. For e.g. they should not be employed in a profession with access to minors, should not be allowed near schools, children parks etc.
  5. The manner in which the restrictions be imposed. For e.g. make it mandatory for employers with organization related to children to verify with the registry before employment.
  6. The type of penalty that will be imposed for bypassing the restriction. For e.g. penalty on the registered sex offender, penalty on the employer employing a sex offender without mandatory checks.
  7. Who can query the registry for verification and how will they be validated. For e.g. – only proven interested parties – parents, employers of specific organizations etc.
  8. The process in which the interested parties can verify with registry. For e.g. direct access to state/central managed websites, request to specific state contacts.
  9. If verification can be done only through specific contacts, then the timeframe within which the authority should revert with verification. The nature of penalty for the violation of this timeline.
  10. The confidentiality clauses that should apply on the requester to whom the information is provided through verification. The nature of penalty for violation of the confidentiality clauses.
  11. The type of offender data, that goes into the registry. For e.g. Name, sex, date of birth, current address, biometric data (fingerprint), convicted crime etc.

Such registries have been instrumental in keeping paedophiles away from children in several countries, such as the United Kingdom, United States of America, and Canada amongst others.

APCW efforts for NCSOR

Between 2014 to 2015, APCW initiated the below :

  • Review of studies on child sex abuse in India & across the world and subsequent framing of APCW recommendations for National Child Sex Offender Registry.
  • org campaign to spread awareness of the need for setting up a National Child Sex Offers Registry.
  • Formal representations to Karnataka State Government as well and in-person meetings with key government stake holders.
  • Formal representation to Central Government.

APCW Current Status

The consolidated efforts of APCW and numerous other similar and likeminded individuals and groups, in spreading the awareness and the need for a registry within public and government bodies, seems to have partially paid off, when in 2018 government finally launched a National Sex Offender Registry.

India became the 9th country in the world to have such a database.

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