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.