The Australian government is planning to revoke the passports of child sex offenders as part of a new law aimed at cracking down on pedophiles who engage in child sex tourism.
The proposed law, which was unveiled by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop Tuesday, would affect approximately 20,000 registered sex offenders who already served their sentences but must periodically report to authorities if they are still under supervision, NPR reported.
The Associated Press reports 2,500 newly convicted pedophiles are estimated to be added to the sex offender registry every year and would be required to forfeit their passports.
Approximately 3,200 serious offenders would be banned from travel outside the country for life, but less serious offenders would be able to get themselves off the registry if they report to the authorities regularly and comply with the law for several years and renew their passports.
“This new legislation represents the toughest crackdown on child sex tourism by any government, anywhere,” Bishop said.
Bishop added that the nation is “determined to prevent the sexual exploitation of vulnerable young children overseas.”
The law prohibits child sex offenders from traveling to what Bishop says are “vulnerable countries” where children susceptible to being harmed are not under the jurisdiction of Australian law enforcement.
Child sex tourism can be defined as “the exchange of cash, clothes, food or some other form of consideration to a child or to a third party for sexual contact,” according to ECPAT International, a Bangkok-based non-profit that aims to combat sexual exploitation of children.
NPR reports that in 2016 alone, 800 child sex offenders traveled abroad, and half of them traveled to southeast Asia, where these types of crimes are rampant.
Lawmakers in the Asia-Pacific group of countries called on Australia to do something about the issue.
Australia’s ABC reports that sex offenders are required under the current law to tell authorities about any overseas travel, but many do not report their travel to authorities.
The law will be introduced in Parliament this week.