|Richard and Maureen Kanka|
By Cristina Rojas
The International Megan’s Law cleared a major hurdle Friday when the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously passed it.
Rep. Chris Smith (R-4th Dist.) has worked to pass the bill, which would expand the system of registering and tracking sex offenders to the international community, since 2008, when he first introduced the legislation. It was previously approved by the House in 2010.
It bears the name of Megan Kanka, a 7-year-old from Hamilton who, in 1994, was kidnapped, raped and killed by a repeat sex offender living nearby.
Under the bill, the United States would notify countries where registered sex offenders were seeking to travel. Those countries, in turn, would be asked to inform the U.S. when sex offenders travel to the U.S.
“The goals of this legislation do not stop at protecting children overseas from U.S. predators,” Smith said in a statement. “Sex offenders around the world are now able to cross borders and oceans to carry out their nefarious activity under the cloak of anonymity and disappear before a child is able or willing to reveal the crime.”
“The International Megan’s Law would establish the model needed for the U.S. to persuade other countries to take action to stop child sex tourism originating within their borders and threatening children in the United States and elsewhere,” Smith continued. “The goal is reciprocal notice.”
Smith said the International Megan’s Law would work in conjunction with anti-human trafficking laws, which Smith wrote and steered through Congress in 2000.
The bill is expected to be brought before the full House in the near future.