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Australia’s estimated 20,000 registered child sex offenders would lose their passports under a new law that government officials say is aimed at preventing convicted pedophiles from victimizing children overseas. Officials call the proposal a “world first” in the fight against child sex tourism.
“This new legislation represents the toughest crackdown on child sex tourism by any government, anywhere,” Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said, adding that Australia is “determined to prevent the sexual exploitation of vulnerable young children overseas.”
The law would prevent registered child sex offenders from traveling beyond the reach of Australia’s authorities to what Bishop described as “vulnerable countries” where children are at risk.
From Melbourne, reporter Louisa Lim tells NPR, “Last year, around 800 registered child sex offenders went overseas from Australia, half of them to Southeast Asia.”
As Australia’s ABC reports, the legislation comes on the heels of a notorious case, in which Australian Robert Andrew Fiddes Ellis was found to have abused 11 girls in Bali, Indonesia, over the course of two years. The victims ranged in age from seven to 17. Ellis was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
The legislation is being introduced in Parliament this week; Bishop unveiled the proposed law Tuesday alongside Justice Minister Michael Keenan.