|Congressman Chris Smith|
By Brendan McGrath
A local congressman is pushing a bill that would bring Megan’s Law, which has led to the creation of registries for child sex offenders across the country, onto the world stage.
- Not everybody on the online sex offender registries (hit-lists) are child sex offenders!
The International Megan’s Law, sponsored by Congressman Chris Smith (R-4th Dist.), was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives today.
The bill is named after Megan Kanka, a 7-year-old from Hamilton who was killed by a repeat sex offender living nearby her house 20 years ago.
“Sex offenders around the world are now able to cross borders and oceans easily to carry out their horrible designs against children under the cloak of anonymity and then disappear before a child is able or willing to reveal the crime,” Smith said today.
Smith has introduced versions of this bill multiple times over the past few years, including in 2010 when it passed the House, but it has never made it through the Senate.
This bill, H.R. 4573, was introduced two weeks ago and was passed unanimously by the House Foreign Affairs Committee before being passed by the House today.
The legislation is not just intended to prevent U.S. offenders from hurting children overseas, Smith said, but also to establish a reciprocal relationship.
“The International Megan’s Law would establish the model needed for the U.S. to persuade other countries to take action to stop both child sex tourism within their borders and protect children in the United States and elsewhere,” Smith said today.
Megan Kanka’s parents, Richard and Maureen, called the proposed law a “step in the right direction.”
“We must not only show the world that we will not tolerate these perverted acts in the United States but internationally also,” the Kankas said in a statement.
If the bill is passed by the Senate and signed into law by President Barack Obama, it would provide a legal framework for the Angel Watch Center, which is currently a one-person operation in the federal Immigration and Citizenship Enforcement agency that notifies destination countries of intended travel by offenders with a serious registered sex offense against a child, Smith’s release said.
“The stories of the victims are tragic — ruined childhoods, devastated families, lifetimes of memories of assaults and sometimes worse,” Smith said.
The bill also would work to establish better lines of communication to effectively share information about the travel of child sex offenders between federal agencies, the release said.
The Government Accountability Office issued a report in 2010 that said that in fiscal year 2008 at least 4,500 passports were issued to registered sex offenders by the U.S., the release said.