Back in October, while I was interning for The Sold Project, I brought attention to a piece of legislation drafted by Congressman Chris Smith (and others), H.R. 1623, also known as International Megan’s Law. (To view original update, please read: October Call to Action: Help Stop Known Sex Offenders From Harming Children Overseas.)
One objective of H.R. 1623 is to create an international sex offender registry to be shared between governments and law enforcement officials. Another important component is to provide funds and resources necessary to arrest and prosecute men who violate children while vacationing abroad:
Lacking legal precedence for the arrest and conviction of the sexual abuse of minors, child sex predators and pedophiles boldly exploit children overseas because they know there are no legal consequences. The passing of H.R. 1623 will change this. One of the key objectives is to create an international sex offender list. Should a known American pedophile commit a sexual act against a minor child in Cambodia, Thailand, Russia, Australia, (etc.) that person can be arrested and tried for their crime(s).
At the close of the mini-article I urged everyone to contact their House Representative to encourage them to support the passing of H.R. 1623. Thanks to a movement of individuals raising their voices on this incredibly important issue, International Megan’s Law passed the House vote on Tuesday, August 27, 2010, and is set to go before the Senate soon!
Well done advocates! Well done!
To learn more about H.R. 1623, International Megan’s Law, or to read the bill, click here: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-1623
Our Voices Are Heard! House Approves International Megan’s Law
Submitted by Covenant House on Wed, 2010-07-28 12:49
In a major victory in the fight against human trafficking, the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday passed “International Megan’s Law” to protect kids worldwide from sexual predators.
“The people have been heard,” said Kevin Ryan, President of Covenant House, an organization that cares for nearly 70,000 homeless and runaway youth each year, many of whom are survivors of human trafficking. “Last fall we asked our donors to support this bill and over 30,000 signed petitions. This is a victory for them, and a victory for the more than one million children in the world who are trafficked for labor or sexual exploitation every year. I want to especially thank Congressman Chris Smith for his legacy of human rights work and for championing this bill and giving us a new tool to fight for the lives of our kids worldwide.”
The bill now goes to the Senate, where Rep. Smith expects it to pass quickly into law.
The International Megan’s Law is based on the domestic Megan’s Law, which allows the American public to check if convicted sex offenders live in their neighborhoods.
“Sex offenders around the world are now able to cross borders and oceans to carry out their nefarious activity under the cloak of anonymity and disappear before a child is able or willing to reveal the crime,” said Smith in his remarks on the House floor Tuesday. “The International Megan’s Law would establish the model needed for our administration to pressure other countries to take action to stop child sex tourism originating within their borders and threatening children in the United States and elsewhere.
“I would like to thank Sheri Rickert, Kristin Wells, and Janice Kaguyutan, staffers who have really done incredible work on this legislation,” said Smith. “And the NGO’s that have also collaborated with us, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, who have endorsed the bill, Covenant House, which has done a petition drive, and World Vision.”
Human Trafficking Growing to Second Largest Global Criminal Industry
Research suggests that human trafficking soon will rise to the second largest global criminal industry, surpassing black market arms dealing and behind only drug dealing. More than one million of the world’s children are trafficked for labor or sexual exploitation every year. Over 20,000 children in the US are trafficked each year.
“Sex traffickers target our children because of their vulnerability and gullibility, as well as the twisted market demand for young victims,” explains Ryan. “So many of the kids we see at Covenant House have been solicited on the streets or muscled into the sex trade. It is our moral responsibility to stand up for the lives of these children. We are glad to have Congressman Smith as a strong and dedicated partner in that fight.”