A proposed Congressional bill, the International Megan’s Law, is being introduced to complement existing human trafficking laws by notifying foreign governments when a known sex offender in the United States intends to travel to their country. The bill also aims to prohibit foreign nationals who are sex offenders from entering the U.S.
The proposed legislation will encourage and provide assistance to foreign governments which do not have a system to identify and track child sex offenders. It will strongly encourage foreign governments to notify the U.S. government when a U.S. citizen is arrested, convicted or imprisoned overseas for a sex offense against a minor in that country and will include strict penalties for sex offenders’ non-compliance with their travel reporting requirements.
The bill is named for Megan Nicole Kanka. In July 1994, the seven-year-old Megan was kidnapped, raped and murdered. The assailant was a repeated sex offender who unbeknownst to neighbors was living across the street from her Hamilton Township, New Jersey home. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) recently introduced the bill into the House.
Smith also authored the nation’s first anti-trafficking law, the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act, to combat trafficking whose victims are primarily women and young girls.
“The International Megan’s Law builds upon the original state and federal Megan’s Law concept of notification and brings the program worldwide when a high risk sex offender decides to travel,” said Smith, whose district includes Hamilton Township.
“I know firsthand the positive impact the U.S. can have in persuading other countries to take action to protect vulnerable populations within their own borders,” Smith continued, speaking in a Friday statement. “Since the passage of my first Trafficking Victims Protection Act (PL 106-386), over 100 countries have implemented their own anti-trafficking laws and regulations to protect women and children within their own borders. The International Megan's Law is a continuation of the United States’ leadership in promoting and implementing global programs that make it more difficult for sex offenders to seek out and prey on new victims.”
He reported that informal communications between international law enforcement officials have resulted in child sex offenders being prohibited from entering the U.S., while countries suffering rampant child “sex tourism” have refused entry to convicted sex offenders after receiving prior notification.
Praising these efforts, Rep. Smith said a more systematic effort was needed.
“We simply cannot leave notification of travel of child sex offenders to random spot checks or ad hoc reviews,” he said.