The Australian government wants to cancel the passports of convicted pedophiles to prevent them traveling abroad where they are out of reach of the country’s laws. Scores of child sex offenders left the country in 2016 without permission, officials said.
“Today the Coalition Government [of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull] announced it will introduce tough new laws which will prevent registered child sex offenders from travelling overseas,” Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said in a statement on her official website.
The new legislation aims to make Australia “a world leader in protecting vulnerable children from child sex tourism by prohibiting registered child sex offenders from leaving Australia or holding Australian passports.”
Almost 800 child sex offenders traveled overseas in 2016, according to Foreign Ministry estimates. But more than one-third of them did so without permission.
“It was clear the existing passport legislation was not working,” Bishop said.
“The new legislation will impose higher standards than existing rules, putting a stop to child sex offenders travelling to vulnerable countries where they are out of sight and reach of Australian law.”
According to Bishop, at least 20,000 child sex offenders have been registered in Australia.
They are “those who have served their sentences but are subject to supervision and reporting obligations due to their ongoing risk to our community,” she said.
— Julie Bishop (@JulieBishopMP) May 30, 2017
Justice Minister Michael Keenan hailed the law as “the strongest crackdown on child-sex tourism ever.”
“No country has ever taken such decisive and strong action to stop its citizens from going overseas, often to vulnerable countries, to abuse kids. So this is absolutely a world first,” he said, as cited by AFP.
The proposed legislation follows a case of Australian citizen Robert Ellis, who was sentenced in October 2016 for sexually abusing 11 Indonesian minors on the resort island of Bali.
Australian Senator Derryn Hinch, who has long campaigned for the measure, also praised the new law.
“People say ‘What about their civil rights?’ Well when you rape a child, you lose some of your civil rights, from my point of view,” he said, as cited by the Australian media.
Back in November 2016, Turnbull called pedophiles traveling abroad “some of the worst grubs you can imagine” and “a disgrace to Australia.”
“We don’t want Australians traveling to South East Asia for these sexual criminal activities,” he said.
Yet people on social media were not entirely satisfied with the proposed measure, calling upon the authorities for even stricter rules.
“How about jailing all pedophiles?” one person asked.
Others wondered if the authorities can protect Australian children from those pedophiles which will now remain in the country.
“What about the kids in Australia? how are you going to protect them!” stated one more person.