CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 23 September 2017

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Australia cancels passports of paedophiles

Nothing is more disgusting or repugnant than men who have been convicted of paedophilia travelling freely to poor countries.

Yet their own governments issue passports and allow them to travel abroad.
 
No one asked if this was right or wrong until Australia showed the way by passing legislation banning convicted paedophiles from travelling abroad.
 
Governments that issue the passports have to be held somewhat accountable for the acts of these people who may have served their sentences, but are still considered a danger to children and are supposedly being monitored by the police in their home country.
 
They are listed on the sex offenders’ registry, but to escape scrutiny, they leave home for countries where children are poor and vulnerable, and the child protection laws seldom implemented.
 
The Australian register contains around 20,000 names. Of these, around 3,200 are on for life. It was reported that by the end of 2017 there may be another 2,500 added to the register and many of them may want to travel abroad.
 
A member of parliament, Derryn Hinch, claims that 800 men on the register travelled overseas in 2016 and 300 of them went to countries in south-east Asia. The minister for finance, Mathias Cormann, pointed out that at least two convicted paedophiles were leaving Australia every day.
 
The idea of banning them from travelling came from actor, Rachel Griffiths, and since Australia has passed the world’s first law cancelling passports, other countries must follow suit in order to protect the children.
 
It was also announced that the Australian minister for justice, Michael Keenan, is working on new laws that will criminalise anyone arranging to view children being abused live over the Internet.
 
It is already a criminal act to abuse children, but not to order it for viewing. Soon it will become a grave crime in Australia, as it should be everywhere.
 
There should be a public outrage over the impunity paedophiles enjoy when they travel to places where they are highly likely to abuse children again.
 
It can be expected that there will be voices raised against any proposed legislation denying the universal right to travel, even for those who have been convicted of a crime.
 
In the United States of America, convicted people are in some states deprived of their right to vote and newer legislation in most countries bans the travel of suspected people headed for the Middle East where they are presumed, without evidence, to be joining a terrorist group.
 
If a country can justify detaining such suspects, how much more are they justified in making a law to cancel the passports of convicted child abusers?
 
Anti-terrorist laws have greatly restricted the freedom suspects presumed to be about to or planning to commit a crime, and it is justified when there is sufficient evidence.
 
But convicted paedophiles travelling to poor countries are surely terrorists to children and their access to vulnerable children should be denied.
 
Their previous crimes are surely sufficient evidence to justify the presumption.
 
It is up to the public and every decent human being to do all they can to support such legislation in their own country.
 
The voice of the few will become the voice of the many as it spreads from one to another. How can legislators refuse to consider and support a positive act to protect the children?
 
If we have a democracy, now is the time to use it. That is our civil and moral duty. When we can act to prevent evil and abuse, we have to do it without hesitation or delay.
 
Please share this article with your friends and write to your representatives asking them to pass a law banning convicted paedophiles from leaving their home country.
 
• Father Shay Cullen