Bringing Light to the Darkness of Human Trafficking (Trafficking in Persons)

Convicted paedophiles would have to get permission from a judge to travel outside the country

dublin airport
File photo of Dubiln airport Terminal 2. Image: NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images

Ireland could soon become the first country in Europe to restrict the travel of convicted child sex offenders.

Independent TD Maureen O’Sullivan is bringing forward the Sex Tourism Bill which would prevent paedophiles from travelling abroad to abuse vulnerable children.

Under the bill, convicted paedophiles have to get permission from a judge to travel outside the country.

FR Shay Cullen from the Children’s Rights Organisation PREDA works with child abuse victims in the Philippines:

"The problem is that many of these convicted paedophiles, when they get out of jail, they know they will be monitored; they are on the register here in Ireland and they go abroad," he said.

"Many of them avoid Europe of course.

"They are monitored there by strict police.

"But in developing countries like the Philippines, Thailand or Cambodia there is really no monitoring or no controls and that is where they head."

The bill follows a similar move taken in Australia after it was revealed that 40% of paedophiles that left the country in 2016 failed to notify authorities.

Fr Cullen said it is no easy task to work out how many Irish sex offenders travel abroad to abuse children.

"This is very severe criminal activity - so it is secret.

"So we can't know because they are not advertising this, they go there incognito; they work at night, they pay money to pimps on the street.

"So, we just don't know."

The Dublin priest has been working to protect women and children form sex slavery in the Phillipines since 1969.

He established the Preda Foundation in 1974.

The foundation has over 60 professional staff working to rescue sexually abused children from traffickers, brothels, and prisons.

"These paedophiles, when they go abroad and they indulge in this horrible crime, they get addicted to underage sex," he said.

"When they come back to Ireland they are just uncontrollable, they will be looking for kids here - of which there are thousands.

"More has to be done - and greater awareness."