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The exportation of child sex offenders must stop - could removal of passports be the answer?

As Ireland considers cancelling passports of sex offenders, international abuse solicitor Rebekah Read stresses the need for the UK to consider ways to curb sex tourism  

Posted on 18 October 2017

It was recently announced that the Republic of Ireland will be considering legislation which would enable convicted child sex offenders’ passports to be cancelled, in order to prevent them from travelling abroad to continue offending. 
At Leigh Day we represent children who have been abused by British men overseas.  In too many cases we see missed opportunities to prevent child sex offenders from travelling abroad.  Once these individuals are able to escape to impoverished communities in developing countries, where they have access to some of the most vulnerable children in the world, the potential for exploitation and abuse explodes.
We have represented survivors of abuse perpetrated by charity workers, missionaries and individuals working for British organisations overseas. 
We continue to highlight the importance of preventing individuals who are alleged to have abused children in the UK from travelling overseas, when appropriate.  

We would encourage the UK Government to consider the legislation which is being proposed in Ireland and undertake a thorough consultation here in the UK into how best to prevent child sex offenders from travelling abroad. As a first step, travel bans should be used more widely and rigorously to prevent the UK from facilitating the exporting of child abusers.
I work as part of a team which specialises in representing children overseas who have been abused by British perpetrators and we see many cases of sex tourism.
The team brought the landmark case against the British Airways pilot Simon Wood who committed suicide before facing trial for allegedly abusing children in Kenya and Uganda. 
We are also currently representing eight Thai boys who were abused in Thailand by Mark Frost, a British man who is now serving life for sex offences against these and other survivors.
The survivors of abuse overseas, who are hugely traumatised, find it impossible to understand how and why these abusers managed to travel to their country when suspicions were raised about their behaviour in the UK. 
More needs to be done in the UK to prevent child abusers from escaping overseas to abuse, often with impunity.