International Megan's Law

From BoyWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Eo-scale of justice.gif

The International Megan's Law to Prevent Demand for Child Sex Trafficking, also known as the International Megan's Law to Prevent Child Exploitation and Other Sexual Crimes Through Advanced Notification of Traveling Sex Offenders, H.R. 515, is a bill that would require the notification of foreign governments when an American registered as a sex offender of children is going to be traveling to their country.[1][2]

The bill passed the United States House of Representatives during the 113th United States Congress. Its sponsor, Chris 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.[3] Chrysanthi Leon, associate professor of sociology and criminal justice and women and gender studies at the University of Delaware, writes:[4]

The law focuses on people listed in sex offender registries (or Megan’s law databases). The core problem with this approach is that empirical research has established that people on the registry are not the ones who will commit new sex crimes.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s own 2002 study shows this: New sex offenses are much more likely to be committed by people not already caught or registered as sex offenders. When the concern is sex trafficking, this is even more misguided, since no connection has ever been made between the two groups. Despite our fears of sex offenders, there is no empirical reason to expect registered sex offenders to be the ones exploiting children abroad.

Beyond this basic mistake in the target of the bill, it would create more unneeded bureaucracy: The U.S. Marshals Service already notifies receiving countries of registered sex offender travel.

Finally, in addition to not helping children, my own research shows how restrictions like these actually harm them. The family members of people on the registry experience many of the same restrictions. Just this week I spoke with someone who was not be able to have her brother walk her down the aisle, because he is registered for “sexting” six years ago. Even though his local and state law enforcement offices had approved his travel, when he changed planes in California he was prevented from leaving the country. On top of missing the wedding, he lost the $2,000 ticket.

Rather than add to the stigmas and other burdens that affect the families of sex offenders (who are also often the victims, since much sexual violence occurs within families).

The Angry Offender argues that the International Megan's Law "will prevent sex offenders from leaving the United States. That means that if a sex offender wants to remove themselves from the country, they will now be blocked from doing so. This is bad for everyone in the country. Sex offenders who are being persecuted by ever-tightening United States laws can't leave the country to make a new life elsewhere, and families that fear sex offenders living in their neighborhood now have a guarantee that said sex offenders will be motivated to stay in said neighborhood because they will now have no hope of getting out of the country."[5]

Senator Barbara Mikulski, Vice Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee which funds the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice, said, "We have made some amazing progress over the years, starting out with billboards and milk cartons. But as crimes have grown more sophisticated, we've had to become more sophisticated. This legislation will give the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice the tools they need to protect children at home and abroad."

Senator Richard Shelby said, "International Megan's Law strengthens our nation’s current sex offender targeting system to ensure that we are doing all we can to protect children around the globe from exploitation. Crimes against children are a plague on our society, and we must continue our work together to eradicate them. Better coordination and communication between all levels of law enforcement at home and abroad is an essential element to this effort. This legislation streamlines domestic and international efforts and establishes new procedures to help us achieve one goal: to prevent heinous crimes against children."

On 14 May 2015, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes urged Congress to get tougher on human trafficking worldwide, particularly by passing the International Megan's Law to protect children from predators.[6]

Amended version

DHS-CBP-MONTAGE-2.jpg

H.R. 515, the International Megan's Law, passed the U.S. House on 26 January 2015. On 17 November 2015 Bob Corker, chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, reported the bill with an amendment in the nature of a substitute. Corker had stated on 10 November 2015:

The International Megan's Law will formalize and enforce 14 existing efforts to protect children and minors from sexual predators traveling abroad. This is also important to help our efforts to end sexual exploitation and other forms of modern slavery. . . . . We want to thank the co-sponsors of this legislation, Representative Chris Smith, Senator Shelby, Senator Mikulski, for bringing this bill before the committee. I also want to thank Senator Cardin, Senator Johnson, Senator Markey, Senator Barrasso, and their staff for working with us on this bill. The substitute amendment before the committee was produced through extensive consultations with the interested executive departments, the bill sponsors, the Judiciary, and Homeland Security Committee staff.

Senator Ben Cardin stated, "I also want to join you in supporting the Megan's Law that would make this global. I think that the chairman's mark adds some important protections, and I know Senator Markey had an amendment that was added to it. And I thank all those who have worked to make this law one that will clearly establish U.S. international leadership on sexual predators. . . . . I urge colleagues to support the bill."

No one else spoke in committee debate on the bill. The bill was then unanimously approved.[7]

Now the bill goes to the full Senate for approval, and if passed then in order for the bill to progress further, either the U.S. House would need to accept the amendment; or a conference committee would need to resolve the differences in the House and Senate bills, so that the amended version could then be passed.

The amended version says that sex offenders are required to provide "Information relating to intended travel of the sex offender outside the United States, including any anticipated dates and places of departure, arrival, or return, carrier and flight numbers for air travel, destination country and address or other contact information therein, means and purpose of travel, and any other itinerary or other travel-related information required by the Attorney General." If the sex offender knowingly fails to provide information required by the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act relating to intended travel in foreign commerce, and engages or attempts to engage in the intended travel in foreign commerce, then he "shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both."

Also, "the Secretary of State shall not issue a passport to a covered sex offender unless the passport contains a unique identifier, and may revoke a passport previously issued without such an identifier of a covered sex offender." The term "unique identifier" means any visual designation affixed to a conspicuous location on the passport indicating that the individual is a covered sex offender. The amended version omits two provisions from the original House version that were intended to be of benefit to sex offenders:

(B) SPECIFIC NOTIFICATION REGARDING RISK TO LIFE OR WELL-BEING OF OFFENDER.—If the Center has reason to believe that to transmit notice under paragraph (1) poses a risk to the life or well-being of the child-sex offender, the Center shall make reasonable efforts to provide constructive notice through electronic or telephonic communication to the child-sex offender of such risk.

(C) SPECIFIC NOTIFICATION REGARDING PROBABLE DENIAL OF ENTRY TO OFFENDER.—If the Center has reason to believe that a country of destination of the child-sex offender is highly likely to deny entry to the child-sex offender due to transmission of notice under paragraph (1), the Center shall make reasonable efforts to provide constructive notice through electronic or telephonic communication to the child-sex offender of such probable denial.

On December 17, 2015, the U.S. Senate passed its version of the International Megan's Law by unanimous consent.

On February 1, 2016, the U.S. House voted to pass the International Megan's Law‎ (HR 515). It will now go to the President for his signature. [8] [9]

On February 8, 2016, President Barack Obama signed HR 515, known as the International Megan's Law‎, into law.[10] [11]

Lawsuits challenging International Megan's Law

A lawsuit was filed February 9 in U.S. District Court, Northern District, San Francisco Division, challenging International Megan’s Law, which requires the Secretary of State to add “unique identifiers” to the passports of American citizens. The law requires federal agencies to notify foreign countries that American citizens will be traveling to their country. [12] [13] U.S. District Court Judge Phyllis Hamilton declined Wednesday April 13, 2006 to immediately block a law that requires a marker to be placed in the passports of people convicted of sex offenses. "It is not clear, for example, what form the identifier will take, which citizens will be required to carry a passport with the identifier, or whether the identifier will appear on the face of the passport or will be readable only by a scanner," she said.[14]

On April 23, 2016, the federal government filed a Motion to Dismiss the IML lawsuit this week. The government’s motion is based upon allegations that the plaintiffs in the case lack standing and that the challenge to the addition of a unique identifier to passports is not yet ripe.[15]

September 2016, Phyllis Hamilton, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northerrn District of California, dismissed challenge to the IML ruling that the lawsuit was premature, since the passport provision has not been implemented yet, and in any case fails to state any valid constitutional claims. [16]

References

See also

External links