The Australian government plans to ban convicted paedophiles from travelling overseas in what it says is a move to protect children in Southeast Asia from exploitation, AP reported. Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she will cancel the passports of over 20,000 people on the national child sex offender registry once the legislation is passed in Parliament. The country’s justice minister, Michael Keenan, said a travel ban like this has never been passed by any other country.
Bishop said in 2016, almost 800 registered child sex offenders had travelled overseas from Australia and at least half of them had gone to Southeast Asian destinations. “There will be new legislation which will make Australia a world leader in protecting vulnerable children in our region from child sex tourism,” she said according to The Independent.
The proposal was made by Independent Senator Derryn Hinch following recent cases of child exploitation that were reported in Southeast Asia. In 2016, Robert Andrew Fiddes Ellis, an Australian, was convicted for sexually abusing 11 girls in Indonesia.
“You go to Bali, you go to Phnom Penh, you go to Siem Reap, and you see these middle-aged Australian men there with a young local kid,” Hinch said while speaking to reporters on Tuesday according to BBC. “They are not there to get a sun tan.”
If the law comes through, as many as 3,200 sex offenders will never be able to get their passports made as they are being monitored for life, reported Sydney Morning Herald. Less serious offenders can become eligible for passport renewals if they comply with their reporting conditions. However, exemptions will be made if a person has legitimate personal or work reasons for travel after it is ensured that they will not pose a risk to children abroad.
“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,” Hinch said.