Australian pedophiles, who have been known to seek victims in nearby Southeast Asian countries, may no longer be allowed by the Australian government to travel overseas.
The plan, which was announced on Tuesday, may soon help protect vulnerable Southeast Asian children from exploitation, according to Time.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told reporters her plan of canceling passports of around 20,000 pedophiles listed on the national child sex offender register. The legislation covering the travel ban is set to be introduced to Parliament soon.
“There has been increasing community concern about sexual exploitation of vulnerable children and community concern is justified,” Bishop was quoted as saying.
She noted that last year alone, around 800 registered child sex offenders were able to travel overseas from Australia. Half of the vacationing pedophiles ended up in Southeast Asia.
“There will be new legislation which will make Australia a world leader in protecting vulnerable children in our region from child sex tourism,” Bishop said.
While the policy is a simple legislation bound to pass, Justice Minister Michael Keenan has pointed out that no country has ever passed such a similar travel ban.
In the proposed bill, 2,500 new convicted pedophiles would be added to the sex offender register annually, according to Keenan. All of them would be losing their passports.
Serious offenders, around 3,200 of them, will be banned from travel for life, while those minor offenders will be removed from the register after several years of compliance with the program that includes reporting their conditions. They would be eligible to have their passports renewed after the allotted period has lapsed.
The plan was reportedly initiated by Independent Senator Derryn Hinch, who, during his stint as a radio broadcaster, was jailed twice for naming pedophiles in violation of their court orders. Hinch also had a history of being molested as a child.
According to Hinch, he was not aware that convicted pedophiles were allowed to leave the country until Australian actress and children’s rights campaigner Rachel Griffiths wrote him a letter after his Senate win.
“If we can take a passport from a bankrupt, why can’t we stop our pedophiles from traveling to Myanmar?” Griffiths reportedly wrote to the senator.
Temporary passports could be issued to pedophiles who need to travel for legitimate business or family reasons, Hitch explained. He added that pedophiles living overseas who need to return to Australia as their visas expire may also be granted temporary travel documents.
Bishop admitted that Asia-Pacific governments have urged Australia to help more in stopping child sex tourists from abusing kids in the region.
“There’s most certainly deep concern among countries in our region about the number of registered child sex offenders in Australia engaging in the child sex tourism industry,” she said.
Hopefully such an initiative catches on to the rest of the world to finally put an end to the monstrous plague that has been victimizing innocent children for decades.