I refer to an article I read recently in the Stabroek News headlined ‘Corentyne labourer gets life sentence for raping three-year-old’ Justice Jo Ann Barlow. The judge was bold, fair and just to give the accused, Yoganand Ramnarine, life imprisonment for the crime of statutory rape.
There is a common view that perpetrators of such a heinous sexual crime should be given harsher penalties by the court, not only to punish the offenders, but to also serve as a deterrent, as reports of statutory rape have increased.
Justice Barlow has reflected societal views, punishing the offender accordingly within the ambits of the law, and I am confident time will reveal that if the precedent is followed, it will deter others from attempting like crimes.
The judge is quoted in the aforementioned article as stating that part of the offender’s sentencing is to receive counselling and that he should be exposed to learning facilities in an effort to reintegrate himself into society should be he eligible for parole after serving 25 years of his sentence. This, I strongly believe, should be the thinking of all judges and magistrates when sentencing offenders.
The goal must not only be to punish the offenders and ensure that justice is served, but to ensure through the power of the court, that the offenders are in positions to be reintegrated into society after serving their sentences by instructing mandatory counselling for them and exposing them to skills training and/or distant educational programmes.
This refreshing style of sentencing comes at a time when Guyanese are outraged by several reports in the media of our nation’s children being raped and sodomised, and in one case, even murdered, by persons in positions of trust.
Thus, I am hopeful that precedent is followed when the sentencing of other offenders for statutory rape is considered.
I should like to commend Justice Barlow.
Youths for Change