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A Move to Register Sex Offenders Globally

September 8, 2009

Time.com : A Move to Register Sex Offenders Globally.

Recent news cases have reinvigorated support for H.R. 1623, the “International Megan’s law,” which Rep. Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican, introduced in March 2009. If passed, the bill would alert officials abroad when U.S. sex offenders intend to travel, and likewise encourage other countries to keep sex offender lists and to notify the U.S. about offenders’ travel plans to the United States. U.S. law can grab American predators overseas. Sporich, along with Ronald Boyajian, 49, and Erik Peeters, 41, were charged under the PROTECT Act, which was enacted six years ago to strengthen federal laws related to predatory crimes committed outside the U.S. (A federal magistrate ordered the three held in custody until their arraignment on Sept. 21. Each could face up to 30 years in prison per victim if convicted.)

(see The Czech Republic’s extreme solution to sexual predators: forced castration)

Human rights organizations say an International Megan’s Law would be a step in the right direction. “If we know someone is committing serious crimes at home or overseas, we want to accurately identify them,” says Karen Stauss of the Polaris Project, an organization dedicated to combating human trafficking. Amanda Bissex, UNICEF Thailand’s Chief of Child Protection, agrees H.R. 1623 would benefit vulnerable children. “We need to improve law enforcement and the economic welfare of children,” says Bissex, “but we also need to address people’s attitudes and create an environment where there is zero tolerance for abuse of children whether in their home country or oversees.”

No civilized person condones child sex trafficking nor exploitation. In fact, we stand firmly against these criminal activities. But we post this article to inform, and to condemn the effort to make sex registries international. Already, the over 660,000 registered sex offenders within the U.S. are not permitted into many nation’s borders (see “Sex Offenders Denied Entry to Canada” ). And the registries in the U.S. are poorly designed, often inaccurate and overbroadly inclusive already. Creating an international registry would only magnify these flaws in branding citizens of every nation.

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