Australian pedophiles committing abuse overseas and people possessing child-like sex dolls will face tough new laws under reforms which have passed parliament.
The laws, introduced to Parliament by the Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton, also hold accountable commonwealth officers including police, public servants, defence employees, and other government employees who fail to report or stop abuse.
Officers failing to protect children under their care from abuse could face five years in jail, while a failure to report a child sex crime could draw three years behind bars.
Those changes, along with tightening the law around persistent sexual abuse of children outside Australia, were recommendations the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse.
The bill, which passed parliament with bipartisan support on Tuesday, creates a new offence for possessing child-like sex dolls, which will now be considered child sex abuse material.
Forced marriages will include all children under 16 years, while offenders will no longer be able to use a loophole claiming a legal marriage overseas, with some allowing 10-year-old girls to marry.
Government minister Michaelia Cash said protecting children was a key priority.
“The sexual abuse of children must not be tolerated in any way, shape or form,” she told parliament.
Environment minister Sussan Ley said child sexual abuse was a “global epidemic” that was becoming more serious and dangerous.
Dutton said on Sept. 3 that the Australian Federal Police received almost 18,000 reports of child exploitation involving Australian children or Australian child sex offenders last year—almost double that of 2017.
“Sentences need to reflect community expectations and act as a significant deterrent to others, which is why these sorts of despicable crimes must result in significant penalties, not simply a slap on the wrist which is often the case,” he said. “Our Government is at war with these predators and all those who would seek to do harm to children. The message we are sending to paedophiles is that it won’t matter how good their lawyer is, a prison cell will be waiting for them when they are convicted.”
In the past year, only 72 children were removed from harm, leading to 83 people arrested and charged with a total of nearly 350 offences.
With reporting by Epoch Times staff.