Hundreds of child sex offenders are flying abroad to prey on children without fear of prosecution because Australian laws designed to stop them are failing, an investigation by The Sunday Times has revealed.
And Bali – WA’s favourite holiday getaway – is now overwhelmingly the No.1 destination for pedophiles, according to new figures.
Australian Federal Police statistics show that one quarter of offenders on the Australian National Child Offender Register who travelled overseas visited Denpasar. That’s nearly double the second most visited location, Singapore.
However, the AFP concede that the whereabouts of our holidaying paedophiles once they step off the plane are not being properly tracked.
Only one offender has been charged since highly touted law reforms were introduced in 2010 that were meant to clamp down on child sex tourism. This has prompted a call for convicted pedophiles to be banned from travelling overseas.
Bernadette McMenamin, the chief executive of Australia’s leading international child protection charity Child Wise, said sex offenders should not be allowed to travel if the Government could not guarantee that they would be monitored.
“If we can’t track them, then they are too much of a danger to be allowed overseas,” she said.
“We can’t just leave it up to local authorities, like the Indonesian police, because they’re not specialised in dealing with sexual offenders. Someone can enter Denpasar and disappear into the wilderness.
“You can have all the laws in the world but they won’t work if people are too afraid to go to the police because of bribery or being ashamed.”
In April 2010, the Government trumpeted stronger child sex tourism laws that would allow offenders caught overseas to be prosecuted under Australian law.
However, the University of Queensland’s School of Political Science and International Studies lecturer Melissa Curley said legal issues, such as the difficulty of obtaining reliable evidence from overseas authorities or collecting witness testimonies, made bringing a case in the Australian courts “very challenging”.
A spokeswoman for Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said the Government was prepared to consider what could be done to improve the laws or further work that could be done with other governments.
TOP TEN TOURISM DESTINATIONS FOR CHILD SEX OFFENDERS
IN a remote Balinese village an hour’s drive from Denpasar, an entire generation of the town’s males has been destroyed by an evil pedophile.
For the first time, villagers have spoken about the deep emotional scars inflicted by a German tourist who molested at least 10 of the village’s 50 young boys six years ago.
Some of the children were as young as nine.
The tourist ingratiated himself with the close-knit community through gifts and money. He bought the boys bicycles, played soccer with them and ate with their parents.
Once he had gained their trust, he started taking them on road trips to see the beach. It was during these excursions that he forced the boys to watch pornography. He later abused them.
His perverse acts reached their height when he brought a prostitute to the village and encouraged the boys to perform sex acts on her the same acts they had seen on his computer.
He was only stopped when another traveller saw him with one of the boys in his car.
He was arrested, but served just six months in jail before being released to go home.
Local aid workers told The Sunday Times that he had bribed Indonesian authorities to soften his sentence.
He also bought the silence of the victims’ families by giving them about $1000 each.
Six years later, his victims remain traumatised by their ordeal.
Until now, they have been denied help or counselling because the community’s elders believed it was in the children’s best interests to just forget the incidents.
The Sunday Times joined the Children’s Protection and Studies Center on its first visit to the village to offer counselling to the boys.
One of the boys, a 15-year-old, said: “I can’t forget. It feels like it happened yesterday. The only time I forget is when I’m busy. But when I stop I think about it again and I get sad.”
The 15-year-old said he wanted to finish school quickly so he could leave the village and its painful memories.
Another boy, aged 16, said he felt guilty for the shame he had brought to his family.
One boy, also aged 16, said he felt uncomfortable at times around his girlfriend.
He wanted to explain why, but his feelings got “stuck in his throat” when he tried to talk to her.
When asked to draw a picture of how he saw himself the boy drew himself without hands. Hands, he said, reminded him of how he was molested.