Toews vows crackdown on child-sex tourism
Published Tuesday, March 19, 2013 12:13PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, March 19, 2013 11:03PM EDT
The federal government is promising to crack down on Canadians who travel to other countries seeking sex with children, after a W5 investigation found that little is being done to stop sex offenders who go abroad to abuse kids.
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews made the pledge during question period in the House of Commons Monday, saying the Harper government is “committed to protecting children in Canada and abroad from sex offenders. We intend to take further action against international sex tourism.”
While the government has yet to say what exactly it intends to do, Toews’s response came just two days after the W5/TorontoStar/MiamiHerald investigation went public.
The investigation revealed that Canada’s sex offender registry does little to stop pedophiles from travelling abroad, particularly to poor countries such as Cuba, to engage in sexual activity with children as young as five.
And although legislation passed in 1997 says a sex crime committed abroad must be treated as if it happened in Canada, there have been few arrests and convictions of sex tourists who target children.
One exception is the case of James McTurk, a 78-year-old who was recently arrested by Toronto Police after he returned from Cuba with photographs that allegedly depict him engaging in sex acts with children.
McTurk is facing nine charges, including making child pornography and sexual interference.
McTurk pleaded guilty in 1995 to possession of child pornography, and again in 1998 after police found videotapes of him that allegedly showed him engaging in sexual acts with young girls.
Despite being on the National Sex Offender Registry, McTurk has travelled to Cuba 31 times between 2008 and 2012, police say. He could do that because the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA), which controls who is allowed into and out of Canada, does not have access to the registry.
Meanwhile, a confidential RCMP document obtained by the Star shows that Cuba is among the top four destinations for Canadians who travel throughout the Americas seeking sex with children. Mexico, Brazil and the Dominican Republic round out the list.
According to the report, an estimated two million children are involved in the global sex trade.