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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 5 March, 2003, 11:19 GMT
Move to curb sex trade travel
Child prostitutes in Thailand
The victims are usually teenage girls
Legal powers are being introduced by the government to ban travel abroad by paedophiles for "sex tourism".

Courts will now be able to prevent people convicted of sexual abuse from visiting specified countries - such as Thailand - where they could be a risk to children.

The court orders would follow a request from police to stop the offender going overseas.

The government is also considering tightening existing rules on paedophiles having to notify the authorities when they intend to travel abroad.

Abuse

Home Office minister Hilary Benn said: "The UK already has some of the toughest measures in the world to deal with sex offenders.

"However, under current legislation the courts do not have the power to stop an offender who has been convicted of sexual offences against children from travelling abroad to abuse children.

The Sexual Offences Bill provides us with an opportunity to ensure we are doing everything we can to deal with those who commit sexual offences abroad
Hilary Benn, Home Office Minister

"We believe this is wrong and that it should be addressed."

The Home Office's new Sexual Offences Bill places a strong emphasis on protecting children from paedophiles and will require people who have committed sex offences abroad to go on the sex offenders register when they come to Britain.

Mr Benn said the Sexual Offences Bill gives the government a chance to do "everything we can to deal with those who commit sexual offences abroad".

Conditions

The new travel ban will last six months, with the possibility of renewal.

Police can specify groups of countries on the order if they think a paedophile is planning a sex tour of several countries, said a Home Office spokeswoman.

It would also be possible to ban travel to an area as wide as a continent, such as Asia, she said.

The order can also extend beyond countries known for sex tourism to other destinations where police believe a paedophile is likely to abuse children, she added.

Three conditions would need to be met before an order could be made.

The orders would be effective on a person previously convicted of a sexual offence against a child under 16 either in the UK or abroad.

Advance notification

The court must be satisfied, from the offender's behaviour since the original offence, that a foreign travel banning order is necessary to protect children outside the UK from "serious sexual harm".

It would have to be used in situations where there are no alternative measures that could be used as effectively.

The new measure will be included as an amendment to the Sex Offences Bill.

Ministers are also due to stage a consultation exercise on strengthening the rules on foreign travel for paedophiles.

They will review how far in advance offenders should have to notify police of their travel plans - currently eight days.

They will also ask if offenders should have to give police more information of their travel plans, and will review arrangements for passing details about offenders between countries.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Lord Falconer, Home Office Minister
"There's no limit on the countries to which the order could apply"



SEE ALSO:
Asia's sex trade is 'slavery'
20 Feb 03 |  Asia-Pacific
Hotelier acts on child prostitution
19 Feb 03 |  Asia-Pacific
Push to stop child trafficking
06 Jan 03 |  South Asia
Cambodia pressed over sex trade
21 Aug 02 |  Asia-Pacific
Demand for action on child sex trade
20 Dec 01 |  Asia-Pacific


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