8 Jun 2010

Tough new Australian laws against child-sex 'tourism'

12:00 pm on 8 June 2010

An advertising campaign publicising tough new laws aimed at protecting children abroad from "sex tourism" has been launched in Australia.

The measures include prison sentences of 25 years for Australians found guilty of sex crimes against children in foreign countries and of up to 10 years for planning to commit such offences.

The advertisements warn offenders that they can be prosecuted in Australia even if their crimes are committed elsewhere.

Charities in Australia have welcomed the tougher stance, the BBC reports.

Hetty Johnston of the Queensland-based child protection charity Bravehearts says sex tourists should have no place to hide.

"It is increasingly difficult for sex offenders to get away with their crimes in Australia because of the increased level of awareness," she says.

"So it is an option - and a very attractive option - for child-sex offenders to actually travel overseas to places where children are not so protected.

"Anything at all that we can do to stop that - we are all for."

Criminal gangs 'facilitating' abuse

Charities have alleged that Australians have travelled far and wide to abuse children. They blame organised criminal gangs in Asia, the Pacific, South America and Eastern Europe as well as China for facilitating such "abhorrent behaviour".

The Australian Government has promised to fight the sexual exploitation of children wherever it occurs.

Over the weekend, a 72-year-old man was extradited from Portugal to face a court in Sydney on child sex charges dating back more than a decade.