Australia in sex-tourism campaign

By Phil Mercer
BBC News, Sydney

  • Published
Man and girl on beach, file image
Image caption,
Charities say Australians travel far and wide to indulge "abhorrent behaviour"

Australia has launched an advertising campaign to accompany tough new laws on sex tourism.

Adverts have been placed in national newspapers that warn offenders they can be prosecuted in Australia even if their crimes are committed elsewhere.

The measures include jail terms of up to 25 years for Australians found guilty of sex crimes against children in foreign countries.

Charities in Australia have welcomed the tougher stance.

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

"What we know is that it is increasingly difficult for sex offenders to get away with their crimes in Australia because of the increased level of awareness," she said.

"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. We just don't believe persons convicted of child sex offences should be allowed to leave the country without reason."

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.

Officials say they want to combat the "increasingly depraved and corrupt activities" of child-sex tourists.

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