Australia bans international travel of child sex offenders

The Australian Foreign Minister and Justice Minister both commented on the arrest as an example of Australia's effort to "stamp out" child sex trafficking.

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Australia Travel Ban
Sydney International Airport - Photo by Mathieu Ccguire , via Wikimedia Commons

New laws that prevent registered paedophiles from leaving Australia came into effect on midnight Wednesday and have already prevented a child sex offender from getting on a plane from Sydney Airport.

With the introduction of the new laws roughly 20,000 registered paedophiles are unable to leave Australia freely. It is particularly aimed to prevent child sex offenders from getting to Southeast Asia where there is a notorious underage sex trafficking ring.

Julie Bishop, the Australian Foreign Minister made a statement about the arrest at Sydney airport but did not reveal the sex offender’s destination claiming that they were still in the process of a police investigation.

Justice Minister Michael Keenan posted a video in front of Sydney airport’s border gates onto his social media profiles. He stated that the person of interest was picked up by police at the airport and that it was part of a measure to protect children worldwide.

According to this latest legislation, registered paedophiles that have been released from prison but still report to police will be unable to leave Australia without official approval. Authorities have the power to cancel passports and there is prison penalty of up to 5 years for any child sex offender who attempts to leave the country without permission.

Mr Keenan pointed out that these laws were the first of their kind in the world and that other countries were watching to see what effects it has.

The stance of the Australian government is that while the near 20,000 registered child sex offenders have served their prison sentences they are still considered a risk to the community at large. These new laws are part of already stringent reporting requirements and supervision for registered child sex offenders in Australia.

Ms Bishop stated that it was evident that existing passport restrictions were not deterring the overseas travel of registered child sex offenders as more than one-third of the 800 who travelled overseas in 2016 did so without permission. She went on to say that this fact had motivated the decision to strengthen the restrictions to this point.

According to studies, the exploitation of children in travel and tourism sex rings has become a worse issue over the last 20 years. As international travel, especially to Southeast Asia was becoming cheaper it was easier for paedophiles to access these child sex rings.

The new laws were officially approved in May after a 2016 commitment by the government to combat child sex trafficking. This commitment closely followed the conviction of an Australian elderly man who was given 15 years in a Bali prison for sexual exploitation of underage girls.