An Australian child sex offender was stopped from leaving the country Monday, under new laws which government ministers described as a “world first.”
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced the news to journalists at a press conference Wednesday, called to announce the new laws had gone into effect.
The man was prevented from leaving from Sydney Airport by authorities at the SmartGate passport check. Bishop wouldn’t give any further details about his case, including where he was traveling to.
“(Child sex offenders) have a high propensity to re-offend if they are in a country where they are not monitored and where child sex exploitation is rampant. These laws are designed to protect children at home and abroad,” Bishop said.
South-east Asian countries close to Australia such as Thailand and the Philippines have long been the target of child sex tourists, according to a report by ECPAT International.
In the Philippines alone, ECPAT estimated there were as many as 100,000 victims of child prostitution.
Previously in Australia, anyone on the National Child Sex Register had to inform authorities of any plans to leave the country.
According to Bishop, about 800 registered child sex offenders on the National Child Sex Register traveled overseas from Australia in 2016, of which 40% did not inform authorities beforehand.
As of Wednesday, no registered Australian child sex offender can travel overseas without permission from authorities. Only offenders who commit serious crimes against children are added to the register, Bishop said.
Speaking with the Foreign Minister, Justice Minister Michael Keenan said the legislation was the “most comprehensive crackdown on child sex tourism” ever.
“This is world first legislation … Australians will no longer be able to prey on children in our region,” he said.
Australian Senator and former broadcaster Derryn Hinch, who fought hard for the legislation, celebrated the news his on social media Monday, saying it was a “proud moment.”
“A convicted child sex offender turned back at Sydney Airport today under new passport ban law that I got passed this year. Those child rape holidays for Aussie deviates are over,” Hinch wrote on his official Twitter.