Dublin priest says the “protection of human rights and the dignity of women and children is breaking down”

Ireland could soon be following Australia’s lead by becoming the first country in Europe to cancel passports of convicted pedophiles in a bid to prevent them to traveling overseas. The campaign championing this idea for Ireland is being led by Irish priest Father Shay Cullen, a four-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee who runs People’s Recovery, Empowerment and Development Assistance (PREDA), a child abuse charity in the Philippines.

Ireland is expected to introduce a draft of this new legislation later in October. It would mean that convicted pedophiles would be prohibited from traveling overseas.

Cullen, who was born in Dublin, said the introduction of legislation such as this would prevent registered sex offenders from traveling abroad. He also said this legislation would particularly benefit developing nations where sex tourism and child prostitution are major problems.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner Cullen said, “It is a grievous crime for anyone to travel abroad to commit child abuse. Legislation was passed in Australia, but we want other countries to follow, and Ireland to take the lead in the EU on this.

“The benefit will be very big in terms of child protection. When more countries follow the Australian lead, many more children will be safer from abusers.”

The 74-year-old priest said life in the Philippines for vulnerable women and children is “dire.” Cullen has been working with street children since 1974.

The Dubliner explained there were hundreds of thousands of sex tourists traveling to the Philippines every year.

He said, “The protection of human rights and the dignity of women and children is breaking down.

“Governments need to pass a law that bans convicted sex offenders from traveling abroad.

“Why are international and Irish sex tourists allowed to come here and rape our children?”

Just last week, Fr Cullen’s team rescued a 12-year-old girl who is pregnant after being raped by a neighbor as well as a five-year-old who had been raped by her father.

Independent politician Maureen O’Sullivan, who is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and has been working with Cullen on this push, recently put a parliamentary question to Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney. Coveney stressed that the Irish Government was “committed to combating child sex abuse in every way possible.”

The Minister for Foreign Affairs did, however, acknowledge that the Passport Services in Ireland currently do “not have any statutory power to impose or monitor travel restrictions on a passport holder.”

Australia’s tough new passport laws, introduced four months ago, will result in around 20,000 people who have served their sentences for pedophilia but are still being monitored under the Australian National Child Offender Register being denied passports. It is estimated that a further 2,500 cases will be added in Australia each year. In 2016 alone, it’s estimated that 800 child sex offenders traveled overseas from Australia.

Father Cullen was nominated, alongside 318 others, for a Nobel Peace Prize last week. The award was given to a campaign for the abolition of nuclear weapons. Reacting to their win he said, “It brings up the debate on weapons of all kinds – and the killing that’s going on in Yemen, Syria and the threats from North Korea.

“It’s amazing that they got it and not some big politicians.”