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Aussie Paedophiles Target Bali

Paedophiles from Australia are increasingly targeting Bali, and last week's arrest of a Canberra man on the island is only the tip of the iceberg, child protection advocates warned at a think tank.
"Since the bombing in Bali, Australian paedophiles have gotten cockier," Natalie McCauley, training program director for child protection group Child Wise told AAP.
"The massive increase in poverty in Bali has led to a massive increase in vulnerability, and paedophiles are setting themselves up in communities here."
She said they were using the internet to spread the message that Bali is much more vulnerable to exploitation following the October 2002 bombing that killed 202 people, including 88 Australians.
The terrorist attack devastated the island's tourism-dependent economy, forcing many people out of legitimate work and into sex work.
While there has been an increase in security along the main tourist strip, Kuta, to protect the island from similar attacks, there is a general level of tolerance towards child sex tourism and police have the reputation of being easy to bribe, McCauley said.
Child Wise estimates "thousands" of Australians are coming to Bali every year to sexually abuse children, but Indonesian police figures show just four foreigners - in addition to 25 locals - were prosecuted on the island for such crimes in 2003.
"Last week's arrest could be the turning point for Bali," McCauley said.
"Indonesian police are getting tougher on paedophilia, and the pattern of paedophiles shows they will avoid places where they think they will get caught."
The 51-year-old Canberra man was arrested in Karangasem on the island's eastern coast, where he had been teaching English at a local school since 1996.
He is being investigated over accusations of illegally having sex with two teenage boys, aged 16 and 14. If charged and convicted under Indonesian law, he faces up to five years' jail.
Australian child sex tourism law carries a maximum jail term of 17 years, but the difficulty of collecting evidence from remote locations means only 16 Australians have been prosecuted since 1995.
Of these, most offences occurred in South-East Asia and the youngest victim was six-years-old.
Enhancing the effectiveness of this law is one aim of the two-day think tank, which involves government tourism representatives from Thailand, Cambodia, Burma, Philippines and Vietnam, as well as the Australian Federal Police.
Delegates expect to approve a travellers code of ethics to be put on immigration cards in ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations) countries.
They also aim to work out the legalities of implementing a black-list against known paedophiles travelling around the region and set up a regional plan of action to stem the flow of sex trafficking throughout the ASEAN region, encouraging people to report suspicious incidents to police.
In a speech to open the think tank, Australian consul-general to Bali Brent Hall said "the dark side to tourism is child sex tourism" and it was spreading across South-East Asia.
To help eradicate the problem, Australia is funding several aid programs and has signed bi-lateral agreements with ASEAN countries, he said.

AAP (15-1-2005)




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