Australian pedophiles continue to try to travel abroad despite the ban on passports

Sydney Airport file photo.

Australian men are a common sight in some of the most sordid parts of Southeast Asia, where children are sold and sexually abused, according to Tony Kirwan of Destiny Rescue.

"Many times we will enter bars and brothels, go-go bars, and there are Australians," said Kirwan, who founded the charity to fight against the sexual exploitation of children in the region.

"It is one of the most common nationalities that we will find in these places."

Kirwan, whose charity rescued 3,000 children since 2011 from the Philippines, Cambodia, Thailand and India, said he has not yet noticed the remarkable impact of Australian "First World Taxation" laws that cancel the passports of registered sex offenders. They are trying to travel abroad.

Tony Kirwan has rescued some 3,000 children from sexual exploitation.

SBS

But 29 registered sex offenders have had their passports canceled at an Australian airport since the new laws came into effect in December, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

More than half of those cancellations, or 17 passports, were just the last two months.

Despite the increase, the total number of cancellations was much lower than the figure of 800 pedophiles who travel abroad one year, or two per day, cited by the government when presenting the legislation.

Despite the delay in the formal processing of the cancellations, the department said that registered child sex offenders were still prevented from traveling abroad.

"It is now a crime for criminals to leave Australia without permission from law enforcement agencies," a spokeswoman said.

"If they try to leave, they are arrested at the border and can spend up to five years in prison."

Of the 800 child sex offenders who traveled abroad in 2016, approximately 40% of them traveled to destinations in Southeast Asia. More than a third of them left the country without notifying the authorities as necessary, highlighting what were considered serious gaps in the previous regulatory regime.

& # 39; Child rape vacation & # 39;

There are more than 20,000 child sex offenders registered in Australia affected by the ban.

Democratic Senator Derryn Hinch, who had pushed to end what he called "child rape vacation" for Asian countries, told SBS News he would closely monitor whether the laws worked as planned.

Democratic Senator Derryn Hinch said he would control the laws closely.

Democratic Senator Derryn Hinch said he would control the laws closely.

SBS

But the relatively low number of passport cancellations could also be a sign that the law works as planned, Hinch said.

"You do not know how many have decided not to try and even go, because it is an offense to try to travel now," he said.

Mr. Hinch described the call he received from then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull when the laws went into effect.

"Said & # 39; Derryn, it's Malcolm, I just want you to be the first to know that they went around the first one at the Sydney airport today," he said.

"I must admit that I just stood there in my living room and I cried."

Second Chances

Former Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said that at that time the new legislation would impose "higher standards" than the existing rules.

But prisoner rights advocate Brett Collins said laws should be more specific to affect offenders. The authorities have serious high-risk concerns and not all those who register in the sex offender registry.

"Once people have fulfilled their time, they should be given the opportunity to rehabilitate themselves, it is absolutely essential that people have the opportunity to re-integrate into the community," said nonprofit Justice Action founder.

Another 53 passports were canceled in the last fiscal year for other reasons of law enforcement, including 21 cases related to terrorism.

Hetty Johnston said that stopping child sex offenders traveling abroad should be a "national pride."

SBS

The founder of the Bravehearts child protection organization, Hetty Johnston, said she expected the number of cancellations to increase.

"I think it's incredibly important for all Australians, it's almost national pride, that we do not send our criminals abroad," he said.

"We do not want Australians to travel abroad and sexually offend against children who simply can not protect themselves."

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