A former Victorian policeman who runs an anti-child exploitation NGO in south-east Asia has criticised Australia’s management of travelling paedophiles, warning that predators are slipping into vulnerable countries undetected by local authorities.
Glen Hulley, who runs Project Karma, said immigration authorities in south-east Asia had insufficient resources to act on warnings received from Australia about child-sex offenders – and that loopholes with the national child offender register were being easily exploited.
He said he had witnessed emailed notifications from the Australian Federal Police go unseen for weeks at immigration offices in Jakarta and Bali, and in Manila.
His comments were echoed by others in the field. Ahmad Sofian, national co-ordinator of anti-child exploitation NGO ECPAT Indonesia, said there were “many cases” of Indonesian immigration admitting offenders despite a notification from Australia.
“If the people or the person abuses in Australia, then immigration will not care about that,” he said, adding that local authorities tend not to act without clear evidence someone will abuse in Indonesia.
Mr Hulley said convicted paedophiles were “falling through the cracks”.
“These officers in south-east Asia would be receiving thousands of notifications on a weekly basis from all different countries,” he said. “And to think they are equipped like we are here in Australia is kidding ourselves … In one office I know in one country, in a major city, they’ve only got three computers and probably six staff that work in that office.”
Mr Hulley also highlighted flaws in the Australian National Child Offender Register, which he described as a “joke”, noting that abusers were required to sign up to the list themselves.
While child-sex offenders on Australia’s state-based register are not banned from leaving the country, the law requires them to inform authorities of their travel plans. The AFP says its policy is to share this information with destination countries, giving them the opportunity to bar entry to potential predators.
In July, the Bureau of Immigration in the Philippines said it had barred 80 Australian sex offenders from entering the country in the previous 36 months.
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald