255. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on reports by various NGOs in regions in which sex tourism is prevalent that Irish and other European sex offenders are travelling there in increased numbers to abuse children and vulnerable persons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5639/18]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Reports of child sex-tourism are of great concern in the fight against child sexual exploitation and the Government is strongly committed to combating child sexual abuse in every way possible.
There are a number of legislative provisions in place to address sexual offences committed abroad by Irish citizens or persons ordinarily resident in Ireland. The Sexual Offences (Jurisdiction) Act 1996 extends the criminal law of the State against child exploitation done outside the State by citizens of the State and by persons ordinarily resident in the State. More recently, the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 extended jurisdiction over offences done outside the State by citizens of the State and by persons ordinarily resident in the State where the offence involves sexual acts with children and certain vulnerable persons. In addition, the 2017 Act also strengthened the existing legislation on child sexual exploitation and abuse, and introduced new offences which specifically target online child sexual grooming.
As part of the management of those convicted of sexual offences in this jurisdiction, sex offenders may be subject to the notification requirements of the Sex Offenders Act 2001, more commonly known as the “sex offenders register”. The provisions of that Act allow for the supervision of convicted sex offenders post-release, including the obligation of an offender subject to notification requirements to notify An Garda Síochána, who then are able to notify authorities in other jurisdictions, should the offender intend to leave the country for a period of more than seven days.
As part of our on-going efforts to strengthen our legislation in this area, I will shortly bring to Government a draft scheme of a Sex Offenders (Amendment) Bill which will amend the Sex Offenders Act 2001 to further enhance the management of convicted sex offenders under that Act. This will include enhanced supervision of high risk offenders via electronic monitoring, more stringent notification requirements, and will ensure the appropriate exchange of information between those responsible for the monitoring of convicted offenders.