Child Sex Tours Bill, 1995: Second Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I thank the Leader for giving me time to present this Bill and the Minister for coming to the House.

Sex tourism is one part of the burgeoning international tourist business. It usually involves those from well off western countries going to Third World countries and behaving in ways they might not at home. Whether or not this is permissible or exploitative of the poor, the involvement of children in this sordid trade is particularly regrettable. The articles by Nuala Ó Faoláin, published recently in The Irish Times, gave the public in Ireland a small and in no way exaggerated picture of this activity in the Philippines. As I said when I tried to introduce the banning of child sex tours in the Package Holidays and Travel Trade Bill last year, the sexual exploitation of children is repugnant to most Irish people. I am glad to be able to present this Bill to the House as a practical expression of our determination that it should not happen here or elsewhere. Children everywhere must be protected from such activities.

The Third World countries where this appalling activity is carried out are poor. They have rapidly increasing populations, often little family planning, economies which are or have been exploited by us and little to offer in some areas except holidays for tourists from abroad. Little is to be gained from describing how children become involved in these "exotic" holidays. They are stolen, enticed and coerced into co-operating. Drugs are frequently involved; sometimes children are sold by parents who are drug addicts.

Reports by UNICEF, End Child Prostitution in Asian Tourism — which initially dealt only with cases in the Far East but now operates worldwide — or PREDA make shameful reading. As Senators will know from a recent television programme, PREDA is organised by Fr. Shay Cullen, an Irish priest who is supported by Trócaire in campaigning courageously against these activities in the Philippines. That any adults would use children in such a manner is appalling.

A global report by Jubilee Action, an organisation in Britain which campaigns against child sex tourism, carries a health warning which says that it contains material which may shock people. I can give a copy of the report to any Senators who may wish to read it. The activities which have been publicised in Ireland involve the Philippines but this report shows that far from these facilities being available only in that country they are provided for tourists in many Third World countries.

Officials in Third World countries are attempting to fight against the abuse of their children and have passed legislation to counteract these activities. Vested interests in some countries where democracy has less force than here make it imperative that we do all these countries suggest to help them. Ms Ó Faoláin's articles were about the child sex trade in the Philippines but it is much the same in many other countries.

Legislation has been introduced in the Philippines which describes paedophilia as a "heinous crime" and the death penalty can be invoked. However, prosecutions of locals and tourists do not take place and loopholes are easily exploited. Thailand, another country with serious problems, has established an Attorney General specifically to deal with the problem. In Brazil there is such concern that the Government there has organised a conference on the subject in the spring. Many other Third World countries are endeavouring to tackle this outrage, but there is great poverty and a sense of resignation to the problem among many of their citizens. Even parents in dire circumstances have been known to collaborate with abuses.

There are hopeful signs. Tourism organisations, in general, are composed of reputable people who have no desire to profit from the flesh of little children. They have been in the forefront of those seeking international legislation to stop these activities. The Universal Federation of Travel Agents Association has strongly condemned any form of tourism involving child abuse. It has also supported ECPAT's campaign and has agreed to help that organisation to alert the public so that existing regulations are applied. It has encouraged its national member bodies to support ECPAT and sends delegates to its conferences. The International Hotel Association has offered support and advised hotels to advertise that they do not condone child prostitution.

The World Tourism Organisation, at its meeting in Sofia in 1985, urged states and individuals to prevent the possibility of using tourism to exploit minors for prostitution purposes. At Madrid in 1994, it requested Governments to take action to identify and eliminate all forms of organised sex tourism. At St. Vincent in Italy in April 1995, the WTO urged Governments to "prosecute, sanction and hold liable under national law companies, agents, clubs, associations and other entities as well as individuals that promote sex tourism involving children". Many companies and trade unions involved in tourism promotion bodies have made similar pleas. The tourism trade does not want involvement in these vile practices and it feels those who are involved should be exposed and prosecuted.

The support I have been given by such tourism bodies and the encouragement by the embassies of many of the countries whose children are involved has been most helpful, but it is to Muireann Ó'Briain, S.C that I must give most praise. Not only did she help me in drafting the Bill but her investigations over the past few years on an international basis have been the catalyst for many parliamentarians across Europe to take action against this deplorable trade.

It is important to stress that people other than paedophiles are involved. Many whose moral code at home would not allow them in any way to molest children appear to feel that minors abroad can be treated differently. People who travel to poor countries sometimes change their behaviour and do things they would never do at home. They justify it on the basis that the young people need the money and that they have different and freer attitudes to sex. Fear of contracting AIDS has made those who generally only have sex with adults seek younger partners, not realising that this can be as risky. The HIV virus is blood borne and young and damaged tissues can be very infected if the child is HIV positive. This is even more likely, of course, if drugs are already involved.

The United Nations Declaration on Human Rights, which we ratified specifically in Article 19, states that member states:

shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child. Such protective measures should, as appropriate, include effective procedures for the establishment of social programmes to provide necessary support for the child and for those who have the care of the child, as well as for other forms of prevention and for identification, reporting, referral, investigation, treatment and follow-up of instances of child maltreatment described heretofore, and, as appropriate, for judicial involvement.

Article 34 states:

State Parties undertake to protect the child from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. For those purposes, States Parties shall in particular take all appropriate national, bilateral and multilateral measures to prevent:

(a) The inducement or coercion of a child to engage in any unlawful sexual activity;

(b) The exploitative use of children in prostitution or other unlawful sexual practices;

(c) The exploitative use of children in pornographic performances and materials.

Article 35 states:

States parties shall take all appropriate national, bilateral and multilateral measures to prevent the abduction of, the sale of or traffic in children for any purpose or in any form.

Article 33 is also important because children are often drugged before they are abused. It states:

States Parties shall take all appropriate measures, including legislative, administrative, social and educational measures, to protect children from the illicit use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances as defined in the relevant international treaties, and to prevent the use of children in the illicit production and trafficking of such substances.

It is this abuse of children that my Bill addresses.

The definition of child sexual abuse in the Bill is largely derived from the Law Reform Commission's Consultation Paper and Report on Child Sexual Abuse in which certain new offences were proposed. The wording may be explicit but it is necessary. No perpetrator of such crimes should be able to say they did not understand what they were doing was wrong because of ancient wordings. Most legislation on these subjects in other jurisdictions have brought in up to date laws with clear descriptions. To my horror, after the Brendan Smyth case, comments made by some people made it clear that they did not understand how damaging non-penetrative sex could be to young children, especially when a trusted person is involved. Therefore, I am stressing the relevance of non-penetrative sexual activity in this Bill.

There is no one answer to the problem of child sexual abuse either here or abroad. This Bill is only part of the solution. Another part is the excellent Bill on extra territorial prosecution being brought forward by Deputy E. Ryan and Deputy O'Donoghue in the Lower House. That Bill deals with offences committed abroad while my Bill deals with offences committed at home by those involved in the tourism business.

The Council of Europe, in Recommendation R(91) 11 of the Committee of Ministers, has recommended that all member states "dissuade travel agencies from promoting sex tourism in any form, especially through publicity". This Bill is a direct response. It is straightforward and should be easy to enforce. It is not necessary to find an individual involved in a sexual act with a child and there is no problem with transporting witnesses across the world; the legislation of other jurisdictions is not involved either. I have suggested an upper age limit of 16 years for the definition of a child, although the UN Convention on the Child defines them as any person under 18 years of age. The reason I inserted 16 years of age is that in some European countries, like the Netherlands, for example, one may legally engage in prostitution after 16 years of age and I am most anxious that this Bill should be as easily enforceable and have as few loopholes as possible.

Other European countries, as well as Australia and New Zealand, have or are introducing similar legislation. However, the British response has been somewhat different. Lord Hylton in the House of Lords and Michael Alison, M.P. in the House of Commons have brought forward a Private Members' Bill regarding extra territorial legislation against sex offenders; but the British Government, despite strenuous pressure by Jubilee Action, has not accepted it. It is instead proposing conspiracy combined with incitement legislation to track down those who organise sex tours. That Government also feels the extra territorial Bill will be difficult to enforce. It may be, but Sweden has recently succeeded in prosecuting one of its citizens. Therefore, I support Deputy Ryan's and Deputy O'Donoghue's efforts. Conspiracy legislation regarding sex tours, as put forward by the British Government, would be difficult to use in dealing with the promotion of sex tours involving children because it has been notoriously difficult to enforce anywhere. A measure such as my straightforward Bill which only involves our own jurisdiction is much more likely to be enforceable.

The deterrent effect of such legislation is also important. Since this Bill addresses crimes within as well as outside the State, the Government could look on it as strengthening our pornography laws. At present it is not an offence to produce or possess child pornography in this State but this would make both so. When the Video Recordings Act was introduced in 1987, it may have been decided that nobody would make or possess such pornography. There has been a loophole in that Act. Laws against importation alone are not adequate in the technological age in which we live. This legislation can be used against the promotion of child pornography on the Internet. Electronic child pornography and computer generated child sex images would be illegal if made or possessed.

The Government has been invited to take part in the World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Sweden in August of this year. Acceptance of this Bill would show the Government's commitment to the plan of action which will be discussed at the congress, to which, I hope, a high level delegation will be sent. The Swedish Government is to be commended for hosting this meeting and the Australian and New Zealand Governments are to be commended for being the first to take action in this area. A man of Irish descent, Mr. Ron O'Grady, in New Zealand had the unique vision of involving many forces in this campaign. As well as activating many individuals at grassroot level to protect children in their own countries, he has involved Interpol, the tourist organisations, World Health Organisation, UNICEF, international labour organisations and Governments all over the world.

The increase in international tourism has brought pleasure to tourists and employment to those involved in promoting holidays. However, this sort of tourism is entirely unacceptable. I visited the Falls in Pansanjam in the Philippines long before it became a haven for paedophiles, but even then, ten years ago, Caucasian men could be seen with very young girls in hotels in Manila. Recently I was told children are being "imported" into Western Europe for illicit sex. By supporting my Bill the Minister and Government could show that in Ireland we will do all in our power to put an end to these activities.

I apologise for the slight delay. There was a division in the other House at 11 o'clock and I could not get away immediately. Senator Henry deserves to be congratulated for her work in bringing forward this Bill, which seeks to combat the organisation in Ireland of child sex tours abroad. The Senator has a proud record in this House of compassionate support for victims of sexual violence and exploitation and this Bill is very much in keeping with that record. I am aware from my own experience, as Minister for Justice and before that as a Deputy, how difficult a task it is to define and refine ideas into the form of a Bill. Very often what seems like a straightforward objective can be difficult to translate into precise legislative proposals. It takes time, effort and commitment. I know, therefore, how much work Senator Henry must have put into the Bill and for that she ought to be commended by this House.

I believe that Members on all sides of this House will support the objective of this Bill. I share that objective and I will not oppose a Second Reading of the Bill. It is difficult to imagine a more repulsive trade than that of organising the sexual exploitation of children and we in the Oireachtas must do everything possible to prevent Ireland taking part in what is a growing world phenomenon. Of course the natural inclination is to concentrate more on domestic issues and less on what is happening far away. The temptation is to say that problems of this kind can be tackled where they occur and that we cannot do anything about it. However true that may be in a general way, there are certain issues, and I believe this is one of them, where we must face up to a global responsibility in combating a global problem.

We are all familiar with the vulnerability of children and we can all too easily and painfully imagine the special vulnerability of children from impoverished families in less developed countries. I know I can because I have witnessed their suffering and impoverishment at first hand in a number of countries. Economic pressure often leads parents to send their young children to work in exploitative conditions. Sometimes they are far away from home and so are particularly at risk. Extreme poverty leads to the break up of families, to population drift to the cities, and to a wide incidence of home-lessness. For many, childhood does not take place and instead there is a direct transition from infancy to premature adulthood. Many children are used as cheap labour, some are forced into prostitution and become victims of sexual exploitation of the grossest kind, including exploitation by paedophile tourists.

There can be no doubt that the phenomenon of paedophile tourism poses special problems in certain countries. Mass tourism means that most less developed countries are within the reach and the budget of many from the developed world. The value of tourism to less developed countries, and in particular the value of foreign currency, can unfortunately militate against effective local action against tourists. Local enforcement authorities are often reluctant to enforce laws against foreign tourists. Furthermore, the relevant authorities may not have the resources that are required to enable them to operate effectively. Another difficulty that has arisen is that even when an offence has been detected and pursued, the only sanctions that have been imposed in some cases are deportation and a fine, which can allow the offender to travel to another country to continue to abuse children.

I understand that the issue of child sexual abuse is one that has been highlighted and is being pursued in many of the countries in question and I sincerely hope that the steps that are being taken in that regard will lead to the situation where all forms of exploitation of children for sexual purposes will be eliminated in those countries. I am sure the House will appreciate that the solutions to the problems that arise in those countries lie essentially with those countries themselves and that there is a limit to what can be achieved by other states who wish to put an end to the evil trade of child sex tourism.

That being said, however, there is no doubt but that the international community has a role to play in eliminating child sex tourism and the problem has been recognised internationally as one that creates obligations for all states, especially where their own nationals are involved. In response to the problem, a worldwide campaigning organisation, referred to by Senator Henry, has been set up to tackle the issue of child prostitution on a number of fronts. This organisation, which is called "End Child Prostitution in Asia" (ECPAT), has offices in many countries and works closely with organisations such as UNICEF and Interpol and also with tourism agencies. In addition to directing efforts towards the receiving countries where the offences take place, ECPAT has been lobbying the Governments of the major sending countries from which many of the offenders travel in order to avail of child prostitution.

Senators may be aware that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Ireland has ratified, places general obligations on states to take action both at national and international level to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse. This obligation is not confined to child nationals of a particular state. Article 34 of the Convention refers to the protection of children from all forms of sexual abuse and requires states to take all appropriate national, bilateral, and multilateral measures to prevent the inducement or coercion of a child to engage in any unlawful sexual activity and the exploitative use of children in prostitution or other unlawful sexual practices.

Furthermore, in 1993 the United Nations World Conference on Human Rights stressed the need for states to address the problem of exploitation and abuse of children and to provide effective measures against harmful child labour, the sale of children, child prostitution and other forms of sexual abuse.

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights and the Working Group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery has adopted a programme for the prevention of the sale of children and child prostitution which called, inter alia, for sending and receiving countries to adopt measures to prevent sex tourism. Senator Henry's Bill is a response to that call.

It is difficult, in the absence of clear evidence, to arrive at any conclusion on the extent to which Irish people take part in child sex tourism or the extent to which it is organised from Ireland. Nevertheless, however much we might not want to believe it, there is no reason to suppose that Ireland is immune from evil of this kind. If it is happening here we have a responsibility to do whatever we can to stop it. In any event, it is right that our law should contain a deterrent against such behaviour.

This Bill is one such measure. It is complemented, as the House will be aware, by the Private Members' Sexual Offences (Jurisdiction) Bill, 1995, which is currently awaiting Committee Stage in the other House, another Bill which I did not oppose. That Bill seeks to make it an offence for an Irish citizen or resident to do any act abroad which, if done in Ireland, would constitute a sexual offence against a child. It is of course rare for Irish criminal law to be given extra territorial effect, but there are circumstances where it is appropriate.

This does mean, however, that we have the unusual situation of having two Bills before the Dáil and the Seanad dealing with closely related issues, with in some respects overlapping and in other respects divergent provisions. Clearly this is something we, as legislators, have to resolve so that the best possible measure is enacted. I think we would all agree that we should adopt the best ideas from both sets of proposals so that in an inherently difficult area of law we do our very best to make the proposed law as effective as possible. I say that from an objective point of view as I have no proprietorial interest in either Bill. I am anxious, as is every Member of the House and none more so than Senator Henry, to pool our ideas on these issues so that we emerge at the end of the process with the best possible result. With that in mind, I will turn to the provisions of the Bill and comment on their detail.

Section 2 contains a detailed definition of child sexual abuse. The first two subparagraphs of the definition draw inspiration from the definition of the offence of rape under section 4 of the Criminal Law (Rape) (Amendment) Act, 1990, although they are cast in wider terms and crucially are not premised, as is rape under section 4, on a sexual assault. This would lead to results which Senator Henry did not for a moment intend.

In criminalising penetration of the mouth of a child by any part of the body of another person, the Bill provides that parents putting a finger in the mouth of a child to check for teething commit child abuse. In not making any exception for legitimate medical examination, the Bill provides that a doctor who carries out an intimate examination of a child commits child abuse. Other examples could be imagined, but the difficulty is clear. Furthermore, curing these defects might not necessarily be straightforward as the definition of child abuse is self contained and detached from national law on sexual offences. An inserted reference to sexual assault would mean nothing outside the context of national law. This raises a wider point about the relationship between this Bill and national law to which I will return later.

Subparagraphs (iii) to (vi) of the definition of child abuse are taken from a definition proposed by the Law Reform Commission in its 1990 report on child sexual abuse, which in turn derives from a proposal of a Western Australian task force in 1987. Some particular points occur to me in relation to this definition but I will first make a general observation. As the House is aware, there is no one offence in Irish law of child sexual abuse but rather a variety of general sexual offences which together protect children from sexual abuse. For example, there is rape, rape under section 4, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, sexual intercourse with a girl under 17 years, anal intercourse with a boy or girl under 17 years, gross indecency by a man with a boy under 17 years and intercourse with a person who is mentally impaired.

In addition, consent is no defence to a charge of sexual assault on a boy or girl under 15 years. These offences and the jurisprudence which has developed around them provide the basis for the Sexual Offences (Jurisdiction) Bill in the other House. It seeks to criminalise acts done abroad which in Ireland would constitute a sexual offence under current Irish law. However, the Bill before the Seanad is consciously independent of current Irish law on sexual offences and seeks to start afresh by creating a new comprehensive offence of child sexual abuse.

It is clearly less than ideal to have such a divergent approach in two Bills which deal with broadly the same subject matter and which are so closely related that their provisions overlap to a degree. On the one hand the new offence in this Bill of organising sex tours would relate to a new offence of child sexual abuse, while, on the other, the new extra territorial sexual offences in the Sexual Offences (Jurisdiction) Bill would relate to existing offences of child sexual abuse. There must be consistency in our laws on sexual offences, not only as between the two Bills, but between them and national law.

If it is thought that the proposed definition of child abuse in this Bill would provide better protection for children than existing offences — I will comment on the detail of the definition in a moment — the unavoidable conclusion must be that the definition should form part of the basis of national law on child sexual abuse rather be limited to an offence of organising sex tours abroad or to extra territorial offences against children. The point at issue is whether we should change the substance of the existing laws on child sexual abuse. This is a question which goes far beyond the scope of this Bill, but I have no difficulty with examining the idea with an open mind as part of the general review of the law on sexual offences. As the House is aware, I am at present preparing a discussion paper on sexual offences and this could be one of the issues examined in that context.

Having made those general remarks, I will return to the detail of subparagraphs (iii) to (vi) of the definition. As I said, I genuinely have an open mind on whether this approach could work as a substitute for existing offences of child sexual abuse and the points I will make on the detail of the definition are by way of indicating areas which would require careful consideration rather than an indication of opposition to the concept.

Subparagraph (v) of the definition deals with the exposure of the sexual organs or any other sexual act performed in the presence of a child for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification of the older person or as an expression of aggression, threat or intimidation towards the child. I am concerned about what appears to be a subjective element based on whether an adult has one of these specific purposes in mind. It might be considered that any act of child sexual abuse would involve one of these purposes and I am sure that is the case in reality. However, we should think carefully before including such subjective elements in the definition of an offence and requiring the prosecution to prove each such element beyond a reasonable doubt.

Will such an offence cope with a person who claims, for example, to hold the utterly perverted view that children like and benefit from sexual relations and that his intention was to give pleasure to the child? Will it cope with a person who, however distasteful it may sound, claims to have been motivated, not by aggression, but by love? Is there a risk that a depraved person could escape justice by raising a reasonable doubt on any of these or other similar points? No court would have any time for the morality of any such argument. However, the issue would not be morality but the intention or belief of the accused.

The recommendation of the Law Reform Commission, in putting forward its proposal for a definition of child sexual abuse, included the suggestion that in any prosecution for such an offence the onus should be on the accused to establish that he had no improper motive. I am not sure whether this aspect of the proposal has been omitted from the Bill inadvertently or through misgivings about its effect. Perhaps Senator Henry will tell me later.

Subparagraph (vi) of the definition deals with sexual exploitation of children, including child pornography. Returning to my argument about substantive Irish law on child sexual abuse, child pornography is another example of an issue which deserves to be considered and dealt with in national law. If the law on child pornography needs improvement, and a good case can be made for an examination of this aspect, any changes should apply in Ireland and not only in relation to exploitation of children abroad. Again, however, a change in the substantive law lies outside the scope of the Bill and in any event would require careful consideration. We must ensure that any new law will have a clear objective and will be workable and effective.

The proposed definition in the Bill refers to engaging in the recording — on video tape, film, audio tape or other temporary or permanent material — posing, modelling or performing of any act involving the exhibition of a child's body for the purpose of sexual gratification of an audience or for the purpose of any other sexual act referred to in subparagraphs (i) to (v). The logical thread holding the proposal together gets somewhat tangled in the detail of the wording. I am not sure one can speak of a person engaging in the posing or modelling of an act involving the exhibition of a child's body. In any event, my main point relates to the scope of the provision and its subjectivity. It apparently deals only with the recording of any act involving the exhibition of a child's body for the purpose of sexual gratification of an audience or for the purpose of any other sexual act referred to in the other subsections.

My earlier remarks on the difficulties caused for the prosecution by subjective elements of an offence also apply to the reference to sexual gratification of an audience. I am also concerned about the linkage between the reference to recording and the sexual acts referred to in the other subsections. The wording appears to restrict the provision to cases where a child's body is exhibited for the purpose of those acts. There may also be some doubt over the precise meaning of "exhibit".

In making these points I am not particularly concerned about purely drafting issues — mistakes can always be put right — but about the policy which must lie behind changes to the law. We must be clear on what we want to achieve and any proposals must be thought through in detail. The discussion paper on sexual offences, which I mentioned earlier, could offer a way in which this could be achieved, not only in terms of detailed analysis of the law but in terms of inviting ideas and proposals on the law from experts in child sexual abuse in the criminal justice, health and education services.

I now turn to section 2(b). I note that a child is defined as a person under the age of 16 years. The question of the ideal age of sexual consent is a very difficult one and I do not criticise Senator Henry for choosing 16 years. It does, however, illustrate the variety of views which exist on the issue. Sixteen years is neither in line with the existing age of sexual consent in Irish law, which is 17, nor with the recommendation of the Law Reform Commission. It recommended that it should only be possible to commit the offence of child sexual abuse with a child under 15 years, although this would rise to 16 where the other person is in a position of authority over the child, such as a parent, close relation or a person in loco parentis.

Again, this is an issue which should be considered in a wider context. Even if 16 years was the agreed choice of this House in relation to this Bill, we must have regard to the fact that 17 years is the age of consent under Irish law, not to mention that 18 years is the age limit which is contained in the Sexual Offences (Jurisdiction) Bill in the Dáil. I find it difficult to see how we could apply different standards of protection to children in Ireland and children living abroad. This is an issue where any changes must be considered in the context of substantive Irish law. That is something I am willing to do, but it lies outside the scope of this Bill.

Speaking of the age of consent brings me to the question of dual criminality. Whatever age of consent applies in Ireland, we must respect the corresponding age of consent abroad. If a country has an age of consent of 15 years, this Bill would label as a child abuser an Irish citizen who in that country engages in consensual sexual relations with someone of that age. That surely cannot be what is meant. It is perfectly understandable that in discussing this Bill we have in mind child sexual abuse in less developed countries, but we must remember that the provisions of the Bill would apply to any travel out of the country, including travel by young Irish people to European countries which have an age of consent lower than 16 years.

A related matter which must be addressed is the question of sexual relations within marriage. Under Irish law a consensual sexual act with a person under the age of consent is nevertheless lawful if it takes place within marriage. We must bear in mind the variety of laws on marriage which exist in other countries. This is automatically provided for if the offences under this Bill are related to existing Irish law, but otherwise special provision would need to be made.

I turn now to section 3, which creates the offences in the Bill. I am in broad agreement with the contents of this section, subject to relatively minor drafting points which I will not go into now. The only reservation I have is that, while I have no difficulty with the section covering travel in Ireland with the intention of facilitating sexual abuse outside Ireland, the scope of section 3 seems to apply to travel which leads to sexual abuse within Ireland. I believe that our existing criminal law, including the law on conspiracy to commit an offence and aiding and abetting the commission of an offence, would cover this activity in Ireland. In addition, we would need to consider very carefully how this provision based on the proposed definition of child sexual abuse might fit in with existing Irish law on sexual offences.

I will not go into in any detail on section 4, which provides for punishment, but I might mention that while a fine of £5,000 may well exceed the limit permitted for a summary offence, I do not see why we should not provide for prosecution on indictment. There are other relatively minor matters arising under section 4, but there is no need to go into them now.

I agree with the objective of this Bill and I will not, therefore, oppose Second Stage. However, the Bill gives rise to serious issues which must be addressed if this legislation is to be practical and workable. That is my aim and I know it is shared by Senator Henry and the House. We must also take account of the Sexual Offences (Jurisdiction) Bill, 1995, which has already passed Second Stage in the Dáil, to see how best the two sets of related proposals can be integrated into a co-ordinated reform of the law to tackle child sexual abuse abroad.

The best way forward is to base any new offences on existing Irish law, and that is what the Sexual Offences (Jurisdiction) Bill, 1995, does. However, the essence of the Bill before the House, that is, the criminalisation of child sex tourism, can be adapted to that approach and I intend to put forward suggestions in the Dáil to that end.

Senator Henry deserves to be congratulated for her commitment in bringing forward this proposal which, along with the proposals in the Dáil, will demonstrate Ireland's solidarity with the sexually exploited children of the less developed countries. I would also like to pay tribute to Fr. Shay Cullen, whom I have met a number of times, on the work he has done in raising awareness of this issue not only in Ireland, but in many other countries to which he has travelled. We will show clearly that we are prepared to do whatever we can to stop this appalling suffering and that we will play a full part in the efforts of the international community to stamp out this evil trade.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I would like to point out to Members that Senator Henry must be called on to reply at 12.45 p.m. At this stage, five, possibly six, Members may wish to contribute. No time limit has been placed on speeches and I ask Members to bear that in mind.

Five minutes will be plenty of time for me to sum up.

I move an amendment to the Order of Business that Senator Henry be called on to reply no later than 12.55 p.m.

I join with the Minister in praising the work Senator Henry has put into this Bill. She was ably assisted by one of those horrible creatures — a senior counsel. Last year we began to discuss the reporting of incest cases. On that occasion the Minister said that sexual offences and sexual offences against children were being examined. I call on her to bring forward the results of these studies as a priority.

This morning I listened to a shocking report on the "Gay Byrne Show" about a person who had badly battered a baby and who, on a previous occasion, was found guilty of physical abuse. While we should be concerned with the abuse of foreign children, we should not be seen to be more concerned with that when there is a large number of child abuse cases in this country. We must get our house in order, a point which I am sure Senator Henry would accept.

The Bill is worthwhile because it advances the debate as regards this offence and its effect on tourism. Tourism is a commercial activity and it is appalling that business people would knowingly and intentionally — I recognise that the word "intentionally" is specifically mentioned in the Bill — organise tourism based on the sexual exploitation of young people.

If the Minister is to bring forward proposals she should bear in mind that it is not just child sexual tourism but all forms of sexual tourism with which we should be concerned. It is unacceptable that somebody would, knowingly and intentionally, organise tourism based on the exploitation of men or women of any age. Perhaps the Minister might advise whether or not it would be illegal to organise adult sex tourism, either within Ireland or to a foreign country. If it is not illegal then it should, because a far greater number of adults, young adults perhaps, are exploited sexually or physically by way of the tourism trade.

This is not a subject about which anybody would wish to take any kind of glib advantage. However, as generously acknowledged by the Minister and by Senator Henry, the beginning of debate on this legislation was commenced by Deputy Eoin Ryan and Deputy O'Donoghue in their Sexual Offences (Jurisdiction) Bill, 1995. This seeks to make it an offence for somebody to commit a sexual offence in a foreign jurisdiction if such an act is also an offence in the Irish jurisdiction. I agree with the broad thrust of the Minister's speech when she says that, for the sake of completeness and because we wish to secure convictions under the legislation, it is essential that we get the definition of child sexual abuse correct. I do not know whether the Minister considers that it would be sufficient to amend the definition of child sexual abuse in Senator Henry's Bill so that it corresponds to the schedule of offences listed in the Sexual Offences (Jurisdiction) Bill, or whether it would be more worthwhile to await the discussion reports of her group dealing with sexual and child offences. Without authority from anybody, I suggest that perhaps this is a topic that could be covered by one Bill. As a practising lawyer I am always daunted by the fact that, on similar or related topics, we have to consider several different documents. There is a case to be made for amalgamating these two Bills and——

That is what I more or less said.

——seeing if the finest elements of both could be synthesised into one piece of legislation, whereby everybody could readily identify its source. I will probably be rapped on the knuckles by my colleagues, Deputy Eoin Ryan and Deputy O'Donoghue, because I have no authority for suggesting this. However, it is such an important topic that it behoves us all to strive for the best possible result, no matter what its origin.

The Government generously gave its time to the Bill by Deputy Eoin Ryan and Deputy O'Donoghue and to this Bill by Senator Henry. We on this side of the House want the very best possible result for the protection of children in so far as we can do it by prohibiting child sex tourism and by prosecuting Irish people who travel abroad and commit these heinous offences against young, poor and perhaps neglected children.

In a world that is increasingly prosperous and materialistic, it is a terrible tragedy that children appear to be suffering more and more every day. It is not a coincidence that when one takes up a copy of any of the international news magazines children appear on the front pages. I have two copies of Time magazine before me. One relates to the Lebanon the other to Bosnia, with children featured on the front pages of each. A cynic could say that children appear thus because they sell magazines and products; everybody can relate to children.

However, it is a sad fact that, more than anybody, and aside from the work undertaken by UN agencies, by non Governmental agencies, charities etc., children are the voiceless and defenceless victims. They have no voice. I commend Senator Henry for giving them a voice. If we could ensure one prosecution and keep one child from being the victim of a sex paedophile tourist, then Senator Henry's work will be worthwhile.

Children are increasingly the victims. For example, in India an incredible number of young children, aged three, four, five and six years of age, work on a full time basis in the most horrendous condition, lifting very heavy objects and, as the Minister remarked, losing their childhood; and the street children in Brazil are routinely murdered to such an extent that such events do not merit even a column inch in the newspapers.

There is a broader question here which the Minister and her officials could consider. What will be our international response to companies, agencies or Governments which by their inactivity knowingly, negligently or recklessly allow this exploitation, not necessarily in terms of sexual activity, to continue? Deputy Eoin Ryan, Deputy O'Donoghue and Senator Henry have started this debate on what will be the response of this Legislature vis-à-vis the abuse, primarily the sexual abuse, of children in foreign jurisdictions?

A good aspect of the Bill is that it addresses child pornography. We do not have to travel to Bangkok or Manila to witness this. A trip, perhaps, to London or to Amsterdam, or, for all we know, but hopefully not, a trip within our own city may reveal that young children are abused in that they are exploited for the purposes of pornographic material. I hope that when we improve this Bill or merge it with the other Bill we could include a definition regarding the abuse of children in pornography such as to make it an offence.

It would be a most serious crime for any Irish shop to sell pornographic material involving children. To the best of my knowledge there is no such illegally published material in Ireland. It is illegal, as presumably it would not pass the censors and would offend our decency laws. We are approaching the 21st century and there are new ways of exploiting children and of publishing child pornography — for example, through the Internet. We must look at these new methods of communication and close all the loopholes in the best way we can.

The other sad point about child abuse——

On a point of order, as there is no time limit, one person could speak until Senator Henry replies.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

That is correct, but the Chair can do nothing about that because no time limit was given.

I ask the Deputy Leader to consider that matter.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

We asked Members to bear in mind that there is no time limit and that a number of speakers wish to contribute.

Although there is no time limit, I will conclude in two minutes.

I read the Minister's speech in great detail and she correctly pointed out a number of legal difficulties. Senator Henry should seek to modify this Bill in certain areas. If this House is anxious for this Bill to proceed quickly, the offices of the Attorney General and the drafting expertise there should be made available to Senator Henry.

All sexual abuse is unacceptable, but child sexual abuse and child pornography are particularly unacceptable. I assure Senator Henry and the Minister that the Fianna Fáil Party will be constructive and helpful in seeking to secure the most watertight legislation to prohibit Irish people from undertaking acts abroad which are offences in this country and to outlaw the heinous commercial activity of child sexual exploitation and abuse.

We are indebted to Senator Henry for introducing this Private Members' Bill on child sex tourism. She must be complimented on the work she has done in this area. She has a great interest in the protection of those who are most vulnerable, particularly children. This is a useful debate to highlight this matter and to examine the possibility of introducing legislation. The Minister has responded positively and she has examined the difficulties involved. As the previous speaker said, everyone has good suggestions to make on this issue.

We can introduce legislation to deal with people who promote or are involved in child sex tourism, but it must work. At the World Tourism Organisation Conference last October in Cairo, 31 states passed a motion urging Governments to get tough on sex tourism. The western world and European countries are ad idem on this issue. The Minister for Justice, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Health have discussed this matter at various meetings. We must introduce proper legislation and try to get other countries to toe the line in this regard. The conference passed a motion to combat the growing trade in child sex tourism. It stated that at least one million children worldwide are involved. The motion called for the drawing up of effective legislation to protect children from all forms of sexual exploitation; the prosecution of companies, agencies, clubs and individuals who promote child sex tourism; and the punishment of tourists involved in sexual exploitation of children either in the country where the offence is committed or in their own states.

The Minister outlined the difficulties involved. It is important that the Government has responded positively and that it will not oppose the Second Reading of this Bill. Senator Henry does not have the same resources or assistance as the Minister. However, I am sure the Minister learned something new today and I am sure she would welcome other suggestions or ideas.

Today has proven that we can rationally discuss a difficult issue which must be addressed. As Senator Mulcahy said, we not only see child abuse in magazines or on television programmes. The Government is beginning to implement the Child Care Act. I urge the Minister to ensure that adequate resources are available in this regard.

Child pornography and violence on television and videos were mentioned. While such material may be limited in this country, illegal videos and magazines are still available. The Minister should urge the authorities to stamp this out. We will only bring about change if we continue to mention this issue at various fora and try to involve other Governments. Ireland by itself will not be able to stop it, although it may help bring about a change in opinion.

I support the intention behind the Bill and thank Senator Henry for bringing it forward and providing us with information on the matter. I also thank the Minister for outlining the various difficulties. I hope she will be able in time to come back with further proposals, incorporating the contents of Senator Henry's Bill and including other matters which should be addressed.

I congratulate Senator Henry on her initiative in this Bill and on her success. She has a remarkable career; this is still the first session after her election and it is most unusual for someone to have such a distinguished record in terms of contribution, not just in its volume but in the good sense she speaks and the number of amendments she has had carried. Now, historically, she has been allowed introduce the Second Stage of a Bill.

I welcome this new openness on the part of the Government. The Minister and Senators on both the Government and Opposition benches know this has been a pet hobby horse of mine for many years. It is the first time I have noticed it. I hope it is the beginning of a new trend and that there is no partisanship involved, so that those of us who are not Members of a political party will be treated equally and other Bills will be accepted from this side of the House. I will watch this with considerable interest. Some years ago Senator Ross had a Bill on capital punishment, which reached a certain point and was then taken over by the Government. I had a Bill on interpretation, to which the same happened. I congratulate Senator Henry on this breakthrough, but I hope it is not just a breakthrough but a beach-head. Let this not be the end to the introduction of legislation in a truly democratic and independent Seanad. I say that without begrudgery — to prove that, I will mention my pleasure at the presence of our new colleague, Senator Hayes. I was not in the House on the day of his induction but he is a welcome addition.

I was happy to sign this Bill when Senator Henry asked me. It is a matter of concern to many of us. However, we would be incorrect if we thought this existed only outside our shores. The Minister talked about exploitation of children and how we in the Oireachtas must do everything possible to prevent Ireland taking any part in what is a growing world phenomenon. However, we already are taking part in one sense; we have had it on our doorstep but for many years have turned a blind eye to it, particularly male children from 12 upwards being exploited as prostitutes.

I came across this when running the Hirschfeld Centre, which received little support from any Government and has since closed down. It was a difficult problem for us to deal with. One winter night, when I was going home across O'Connell Bridge, I was stopped by someone I knew to be a prostitute. He was a most unpleasant person, then aged about 20, who had been involved in this routine for at least six years. He had been known to me for some time as a dangerous individual. I did not know his background but it must have been ghastly to have produced something like that. Three years later he was found floating in the Liffey, presumably as the result of a failed blackmail attempt.

That night, this person asked me what I was going to do about "her", meaning a 13 year old boy. There was nothing I could do about that boy because I knew if I incorporated this work into the then work of the centre, we would all be tarred with a brush which would bring down the valuable work we did for other people. What alternative did that child have that winter's night? Through prostitution, he presumably found shelter and some degree of financial support, which apparently was not forthcoming from elsewhere. That was not in the Philippines or Brazil but in the capital city of Ireland.

We must take a two-pronged approach. We must be aware that this has existed in our country — I do not suggest we have a beam in our eye which must be removed but we at least have some motes of dust which are comparable and analogous to what occurs in some other countries, although it is by no means so extreme here.

I do not approve of sex tourism or the exploitation of children, but there are worse things and we would be failing in our human responsibility if we did not acknowledge that. In some of the countries mentioned such as Brazil, these children are categorised as "disposable", along with gay people. The use of that word is utterly horrifying and however degrading and terrible child prostitution is, it is not as bad as being finally snuffed out.

I recall a case a number of years ago where a lay brother took a child away from a school in County Wicklow and went to Scotland. There was some kind of blocked sexual impulse which did not eventually emerge in a physical sexual act but the emotional tension became extreme. This man did not wish to return the boy to a situation in which he felt he was being abused so he drowned him in a bath. The counsel for this man's defence uttered a phrase which has never left my mind since: "At least, my lord, he did not interfere with him". The brother drowned the child, ending his life. If one constructs a scale which includes those acts rightly mentioned in Senator Henry's Bill — the penetration of the vagina or the anus and masturbation in the presence of a child — the murder of a child is far worse. Such a scale must be borne in mind.

I applaud the work of journalists such as Ms Nuala Ó Faoláin. She wrote a series of articles, which I will not discuss in detail because many Senators wish to contribute, for which we owe her a great debt of gratitude. Thanks is also due to priests like Fr. Cullen. We must, however, have a two pronged approach. We must consult people like Fr. Cullen to find out how we can assist their organisations. To be callous, it is not enough to throw child prostitutes out of work, so to speak, without providing a positive framework in which their energies may be properly employed. We must look at this in consultation with the Department of Foreign Affairs.

I was watching this debate on the monitor — the newspapers occasionally report that there were few Members in the House at a certain time but we watch our television monitors. I did not catch all of Senator Henry's excellent speech and I do not know if she provided evidence about the current prevalence of child sex tourism from Ireland. It might be useful to have such evidence to see the urgency of the matter. Even if it is not prevalent, Senator Henry probably intends the Bill to be a preemptive strike, for which there is a good argument. The Senator and I attended a conference on AIDS in Barcelona, at which a Spanish woman said one did not put up a sign about a hairpin bend two miles after it has occurred; it is put up before it occurs so that people do not drive over the edge.

There are two other matters, the first being different ages of consent. That is quite a complicated, technical matter on which the Senator may take advice to synchronise the ages, although it is not clear how it can be done. I did a study of ages of consent in Europe and they are quite disparate. There is a wide range of ages. Surprisingly, in some Catholic countries there may be a joint age of consent of as low as 12.

It is not clear how one can convict somebody in Ireland of a sexual offence that took place in a jurisdiction where that act was not a sexual offence. A good example of this, although it involves religious law rather than domestic law, is the case of the 13 year old British girl who went to Turkey recently and had a consensual sexual relationship with a Turkish youth having been married under Islamic law. There may be jurisdictions where that might not only be permissible under religious law but might be legally permissible. The matter is probably covered in section 2(b) which gives the definition of a child as "a person under the age of 16 years" and that would render illegal in this country something which may not be legal in the country where the act was committed.

The question of masturbation in the presence of a child may be fairly vague. In some other part of the world a liaison may take place between an Irish national and a local adult; they may go to have some form of consenting sexual relationship in a dwelling where there is only one family room in which there may be a child asleep. I do not know if that issue needs examination. There are issues in the Bill on which I do not have expertise. I am not a sex tourist and, furthermore, I have never been in the slightest interested in children. I have always been interested in people of the same age as me — when I was 16 years old I was interested in 16 year olds and now that I am 51 years old those in this country who are 51 years old had better look out because I will undoubtedly find them sexually attractive.

Section 2 (vi) refers to "... posing, modelling or performing of any act involving the exhibition of a child's body for the purpose of sexual gratification ...". I applaud the Senator's motivation although this point may need further investigation. I am put in mind of the position of a well known television presenter whose husband took a photograph of their young daughter in the bath. Somebody in the photograph processing section of the shop where the film was brought to be developed spotted the photograph of the child, reported the woman and her husband to the police and they were arrested. Although every decent person is against the exploitation of children one must also be sensitive to the fact that it is necessary to ensure there are no foolish or misguided prosecutions.

My worry about the age of consent springs principally from the fact that ages of consent always have a cut off point. Although it is difficult to get it into law, I prefer the principle of consent rather than an age of consent, particularly in an international situation where there is no agreement as to what constitutes a proper age of consent.

In looking at this Bill I was reminded that sometimes the conscience of a nation is pricked by the work of a journalist. It happened when a British journalist's reports on the appalling famine in Ethiopia led to Live Aid and, more recently, with the programme "The Dying Room" on the orphanages in China. The work of Nuala Ó Faoláin in highlighting the issue of child sexual abuse abroad is to be congratulated. We owe a lot to journalists who raise issues that might not otherwise come to our attention. I congratulate Senator Henry on succeeding in bringing the Bill before us and giving us a lot of information on a difficult subject.

Discussion of the issues of child sexual abuse is relatively new to us in Ireland. The first time the question of paedophilia came to light to any great extent via the media was in terms of the conduct of a certain priest. The issue received wide discussion for the first time in the light of that particular case. There had been a certain ignorance as to the existence of paedophilia, never mind the extent of sexual abuse in Ireland generally. The fact that the issue is raised brings about a need for us as legislators to address it.

Child sexual abuse may seem such a difficult and horrible subject that one wonders how it can be tackled in law. It is difficult but it should be tackled when possible. Child sexual abuse abroad is an issue we can deal with by introducing legislation, such as this Bill, which indicates that we do not accept that Irish citizens should be permitted to carry out such brutal deeds abroad. Where we can address an area of abuse we should do so.

I understand the flaws which the Minister has highlighted in the Bill. She is to complimented on her proactive response to the Bill — rather than knocking the Bill for its flaws she has suggested ways in which they might be dealt with.

The law on child sexual abuse and sexual abuse in general needs to be examined. I welcome that there is a discussion paper in preparation in the Department. It would be a severe injustice if we were to provide wide definitions of child sexual abuse abroad and not apply the same protections for children in Ireland. The whole matter should be examined in a comprehensive fashion. If, as the Minister's speech indicates, we have at least eight different classes of sexual offence, there is something wrong in legislative terms. It offers the opportunity to an offender to escape conviction on a technicality whereby a prosecution should have been taken place for one class of offence as opposed to another. It also indicates that the history of our tackling sexual crimes generally has been haphazard.

I strongly favour an examination of the law on sexual abuse generally and a comprehensive Bill with definitions for the various degrees of offence. We must ensure the law does not fail to cover a particular offence simply because a long standing Act failed to deal with it. We must make sure to cover as much as possible in legislation. The aspect of pornography highlighted in Senator Henry's Bill is one that could be dealt with easily in a new Bill.

I hope the issues in the Bill before us today will be addressed in a much wider way. We should have an Act to deal with sexual abuse abroad as a separate issue. However, let us work to bring forward an Act to deal with sexual abuse in Ireland in a better way than is the case at present. We have a problem with child abuse, which is underestimated, but I would not limit a review to child sexual abuse. There are great gaps in the law generally which affect Irish women and these must also be examined.

When I was in Cambodia I saw bars where there were girls aged between 14 and 25 years — it was difficult to tell their ages — imported from Thailand who were effectively there to service the UN. We should not turn a blind eye to such behaviour. It may not be an offence under the Bill, yet it seems to be the essence of abuse of people and of poverty. We should seek to cover that in the legislation.

I accept that there are problems with the definition in the Bill, as the Minister pointed out. The creation of a new offence of child sexual abuse per se is rather difficult in terms of the huge array of existing legislation on the matter. I query the feasibility of any such Bill, given the difficulty of proving an offence which has occurred abroad. It may be easier to tackle the tourist agencies and find evidence against them in this country as it seems very difficult to take an action against the offender, in terms of the burden of proof. From the criminal law point of view, I ask for more to be done to examine how that issue would be tackled. While the intention of the Bill is evident, the practicalities are not clear.

This is part of a much greater problem in Ireland. It is easy for us, as Irish people, to say that the problem is abroad and is, therefore, much easier to accept. However, the problem is very much at home. Our society is increasingly open to international media with the Internet, videos and satellite television. We must examine material which is readily available to young children. Nobody seems to be educating children that such treatment of other people is wrong. I am worried about an increase in sexual crimes in this country because children are growing up without being taught that it is incorrect to abuse people, particularly women and children, as we see happening daily on ordinary television channels, never mind videos and satellite television channels. Perhaps, I am becoming old fashioned — I have been here for a while.

Join the club.

It bothers me that we, as a society, deem this to be acceptable. Every day on television the norm is for every girl to be exceedingly pretty and for every boy to take advantage of her. It seems to be acceptable that our young children are growing up with standards which I do not like. We should tackle that issue in terms of education and our attitudes, as it is a growing problem.

I support the idea of addressing the identifiable problem of child sexual abuse abroad. We should not tolerate Irish citizens engaging in this practice. I hope that the Minister will return to the House on this matter very soon.

I am aware that others wish to speak so I will be as brief as possible. Many years ago, as chairman of the Irish Commission for Justice and Peace, I first encountered this putrid problem. I congratulate members of the justice and peace commission in Ireland and throughout Europe who, over the last ten or 15 years, have tried to raise public consciousness. Through the good work of journalists and concerned people, they have brought this issue to the forefront.

We are now in the happy position of having two separate pieces of draft legislation dealing with this problem before both Houses of the Oireachtas at the same time. Deputy Ryan, Deputy O'Donoghue and Senator Henry have done all of us a considerable service. We are also in the happy position that the draft legislation is, as the Minister said, complementary in many ways. I agree with the Minister's suggestion that some means of bringing the two Bills together and enacting them quickly should be sought. Very few issues would bring all sides of the House together as quickly and an all party Joint Committee could do very good work in this area. That work should be done sooner rather than later because Ireland's EU Presidency has a role to play in this regard.

Child sex tourism is a particularly hideous form of exploitation which is visited on the Third World by the so-called developed world. The available figures are frightening, distressing and disquieting in equal measure. The developed world, having raped the colonies of their resources and in many cases destroyed their environment and indigenous cultures, now sends its least desirable adults to those countries to destroy the children — the only wealth they have left.

In November 1995, The European newspaper reported that German officials had calculated that half of all German male tourists visiting Kenya, South Korea and the Philippines did so specifically for sexual activities with children. A separate report suggested that up to 70 per cent of male visitors to Thailand — a country with its own culture — go there for the same dark and putrid purpose. The Dutch charity, Child Right Worldwide, suggests that at present more than one million children are victims of the predatory sexual activities of Western Europeans. Those figures redound to all our discredit.

It is suggested by other charities that up to 200,000 Nepalese girls have been sold into sexual slavery. In the Philippines, 60,000 children work as prostitutes, most of them catering specifically for tourists or R&R for various military bases. In Thailand, between 200,000 and 250,000 children are involved in this trade. In Colombia, one third of all prostitutes are under the age of 14 years and Christian Aid has calculated that 5 per cent are under the age of ten years. It is estimated that as many as 10,000 young boys between the ages of six and 14 years have been sold into indentured slavery to the brothels of Sri Lanka. Anybody with a shred of humanity in their body cannot but be moved, horrified and offended by these statistics.

In many of the countries, particularly in east Asia, where the abuse has been most endemic, domestic legislation has always been poor. However, because of international pressure and revulsion, there has been at least some tightening up. One of the extraordinary results of this is that the phenomenon has moved west towards Europe. The campaign group, End Child Prostitution in Asian Tourism, suggested in a recent report that one of the unexpected results of the fall of the Berlin Wall is that the problem of child prostitution for tourists has become a major problem in former command economies. Many of us who have visited these countries, perhaps in the context of electoral observers, have seen this scourage and horror at first hand.

It is obvious, therefore, that any country which wishes to consider itself civilised cannot stand idly by and do nothing in the face of these horrors. In the European Union, Belgium, France, Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Germany have enacted strong legislation in this regard. There is an ongoing debate in the United Kingdom at the moment but for some reason, which is not clear, the Government does not seem willing to take the matter on board. In the European Union, where services can be freely traded across borders, it is important that all 15 member states put in place a comprehensive and common bulwark. It is particularly important that Ireland should not provide a safe haven for operators driven out of other countries. It is also important that we look to ourselves because, as the Minister said, I am sure that Irish people are not without blame in this regard.

This Bill, and that introduced by Deputy Ryan and Deputy O'Donoghue, are timely reminders of what can be done. I suggest to the Minister and the drafters of both Bills that they should be combined and put before a Joint Committee of the Oireachtas with a view to producing one piece of legislation. I also suggest that both Houses should set a target to enact legislation in this area before Ireland's EU Presidency. This issue should be a plank of that Presidency. Many member states have made efforts to combat this evil and we should take that a step further.

I compliment the Minister for her suggested approach of trying to use both Bills, and the resources of her Department, to produce a composite set of legislative proposals which the Oireachtas can speedily enact. This is a good way to introduce legislation.

Sex tourism is the latest form of exploitation of the developing world by developed nations. I congratulate Senator Henry on the work she has invested in this Bill. Like Deputy Eoin Ryan and Deputy O'Donoghue who introduced a similar piece of legislation in the Lower House, she has given great thought to this latest form of colonialism — the exploitation by a small number of Western tourists of young children in certain parts of the developing world.

I congratulate Father Shay Cullen for his tireless work in exposing the scandal of child prostitution in the Philippines and in lobbying the Governments of the developed world to enact legislation such as that being debated in this House. I also congratulate Nuala Ó Faoláin, who recently dealt with this issue in an extremely well written and disturbing exposé. It is largely due to their efforts, and those of organisations such as Trócaire, that politicians and the public have become aware of this issue and that Bills similar to this are being debated in parliaments throughout Europe.

As the gulf between the developed and developing worlds increases, certain types of exports are flourishing. The developed world is increasingly exporting its social and economic ills, which range from environmental despoliation to child exploitation. Child sex tourism is the ultimate in social dumping. As awareness of child sexual abuse increases in the developed world and legislation is enacted, increasing numbers of paedophiles are seeking new hunting grounds in the poorest countries of Asia and Africa, including Thailand, India, the Philippines, Kenya and other African countries.

Child prostitution is as subject to the laws of supply and demand as any other commodity. The increasing demand from European, American and Australian tourists for child prostitutes has created a seemingly inexhaustible supply. UNICEF estimates that 60,000 child prostitutes are operating in the Philippines, a substantial number of them for the benefit of foreign tourists. While most of the destination countries have enacted legislation to deal with child prostitution, prosecutions of foreign nationals are extremely rare. This is due to a combination of factors: lack of resources, the logistical difficulties of prosecuting a tourist and, in some cases, corruption. To the best of my knowledge, no foreign paedophile has been convicted under the Philippines' stringent child protection laws. This is not due to lack of evidence because sex tour brochures, videos and records of sexual encounters are readily available.

The enactment of legislation to prosecute paedophiles for offences committed abroad serves a number of purposes. It will send a clear message that, on their return to Ireland, people who have abused children elsewhere will not find a safe haven. The legislation will reassure people in destination countries that we are not prepared to see those countries being used as paedophile dumping grounds. It will also ensure that child abusers will not be at liberty to continue their activities in this jurisdiction.

Legislation similar to that before the House has been enacted in jurisdictions such as Australia and Sweden. Perhaps it is too early to assess the effectiveness of that legislation, but in years to come it will create a climate of intolerance against touring paedophiles. In the short term, this type of legislation will provide a legal sanction against Irish child abusers travelling to the developing world in search of victims.

I thank the Minister for her attendance in the House and her support of the objectives of this Bill. I congratulate Senator Henry for introducing the Bill and the work she has done in relation to it. When the Travel Trade Bill was before the House last year Senator Henry raised this issue and I supported her at that time. She deserves our thanks and support for introducing this worthwhile Bill which makes it an offence to organise travel or publish any information with the intention of facilitating child sexual abuse abroad.

In recent years people in Ireland have become aware of the extent of child sexual abuse throughout the country and none of us seems to be shocked by revelations in this regard. Nuala Ó Faoláin's recent articles in The Irish Times shocked everyone. The horrifying fact, however, is that none of what she stated is an exaggeration.

Like the Minister and other Senators, I met Father Shay Cullen. The horrific stories he related about the exploitation of children in the Philippines and other Third World countries were shocking. Ireland, as a developed country, should do everything possible to show solidarity with these children. I welcome the fact that the Minister would like to see the objectives of this Bill implemented into law. I agree with Senator Roche that we will have a great opportunity to put this issue high on the agenda during Ireland's upcoming Presidency of the EU. This country must provide an example by implementing legislation. Other countries have introduced such legislation and, by the end of 1996, 12 of the 15 EU member states will have legislation on their statute books. It is fitting that Ireland do likewise.

The issues raised in this Bill and the extent of child sex tourism, prostitution and paedophilia have been well publicised by several non governmental organisations and Irish workers and missionaries abroad, such as Father Cullen. Their lobbying and their highlighting of the problem encouraged the introduction of Senator Henry's Bill and also that of Deputy Eoin Ryan and Deputy O'Donoghue in the Lower House. If people engage in promoting child sex tourism in Ireland or travel abroad to exploit children, they must be aware that they will punished under Irish law. Whatever standards we have in this country, people must be aware that it is not acceptable to carry out these acts abroad.

There is no available estimate for the number of Irish people involved in sex tourism. We might not wish to believe it, but the Minister stated that it is happening among Irish people. The Oireachtas has a responsibility to do whatever possible to stop this. Therefore, legislation is necessary.

It is difficult to understand why men travel thousands of miles to exploit children who are already the victims of great poverty and injustice. It does happen, however. Nuala Ó Faoláin's articles in The Irish Times exposed how rooted in poverty and injustice is child prostitution in the Philippines. There is an increasing economic rift between countries such as the Philippines, where children are horribly exploited, and developed nations such as Ireland, where there is a demand for sex tourism. Action must be taken by the Governments of both countries. In one of her articles Nuala Ó Faoláin stated that “There are small and completely vulnerable children around the streets because not one of them is worth as much to anyone who has ever met them as a pair of Imelda Marcos' shoes.”. It will be worthwhile if we try to show solidarity with those children and also show them that we place a value on their lives and have respect for them. My party is glad to support Senator Henry's Bill or whatever composite Bill the Minister believes can be introduced to deal with this horrific problem.

I congratulate Senator Henry on taking the initiative to draft this Bill and present it to the House. I fully support what she is seeking to achieve. The Minister outlined difficulties in relation to compatibility with Irish law and also regarding definition. I hope she will be able to gather contributions from both Houses and introduce an effective and enforceable law to this area.

In the short time available to me, I want to go straight to a point I wanted to make on section 3(3)(b) of the Bill, where Senator Henry addresses the problem of different sources of information and how to control other sources of information than those we are used to normally. I am concerned particularly that the era of the Internet allows new and worrying access to information which is extremely difficult to control. An article in The Cork Examiner last Monday indicated that technology specialists say it will be extremely difficult to control information on the Internet and similar technologies. I hope the Minister will address the particular difficulties posed by this area. The US, German and French Governments are trying to deal with this issue at present and are troubled by pornography, xenophobia, racism, etc. which is being transmitted on the Internet.

This type of tourism is an insidious kind of imperialism and Senator Roche referred to it as a form of colonialism. It is based on the supposition that it is all right to inflict treatment which would be outlawed at home on children in far away places. The mind set of the people who can live with such double standards must be challenged and their activities curtailed. Even putting such legislation on the Statute Book might be enough to put a stop to child sex tourism in Ireland and the promotion of it, because the kind of people who take advantage of the vulnerability of others in this area are probably too cowardly to risk exposure and prosecution.

I hope that by enacting this legislation we will be able to put a stop to child sex tourism. I realise the difficulties of enforcement and compatibility with Irish law but I congratulate Senator Henry on the Bill.

I welcome the thrust of Senator Henry's Bill and the Minister's response. I hope it will have some effect.

Taking up the matter to which Senator Gallagher alluded, my fear is that once the general drift of social thought is in the direction of what I will loosely, and without prejudice, call no fault individual behaviour, it is difficult to know where one introduces the line of fault. While I always welcome the Minister for Justice to the House, every time she has been present, whether it is in relation to drugs, crime or, more recently, on this issue, it is in a way almost like having the Minister for Sisyphean activity or endeavour present because it is trying to put sticking plaster on wounds which are gaping in society and which many of our other impulses, and the directions in which we think, actually foster rather than counter. While I welcome this and hope a good Bill emerges from it, I wonder whether it is not, in fact, fighting an uphill battle against a general drift of a great deal of our other thinking and that we ourselves may have an element of double thinking in the way in which we go about things at home as well as abroad.

I thank the Minister for her response to this Bill and all of my fellow Senators for the way in which they have received it.

I can see the Minister's heart is obviously with me and, listening to her speech, I feel that the hand of her Department is in favour of this sort of legislation, so I am quite sure we will be able to bring forward some provision. Naturally, as she pointed out, I do not have the benefit of the backup of the Department and I was relieved to read in the papers that apparently in the proposed Dáil reform money will be provided to the Opposition and, I hope to the Independents, for research and for Private Members' Bills because I had to rely on the good offices of friends.

I want to address a few points which I thought were relevant. Senator Norris congratulated me on my breakthrough in getting this Bill to Second Stage, but I am quite sure he will be looked on as favourably by Senator Manning, particularly at present. He was right to raise the lack of shelter for children in this country who have become involved in prostitution.

Senator Norris used the words "snuffed out" with regard to children abroad. I did not say it in my opening remarks, but I was told by one person who has done work in this area abroad that she had heard too many child prostitutes say that some of their siblings been sold for snuff films to feel it was not true. In these situations, the parents are usually drug addicts and there is a serious problem with drug addicts in third world countries who sell their children into the most appalling situations. I have talked to Fr. Cullen about what we can do about this and these are the sorts of efforts which he wanted brought forward.

Those Senators who pointed out that this really is a form of colonialism and imperialism are quite right. They made the point that what is not permissible at home is all right when we get out to people who are considered to be a lesser type of being. This is most unfortunate but it is true.

Senator Lee is right, too, when he spoke about no fault individual behaviour, and Senator Gallagher spoke about that also. We must look at the general drift of what goes on with regard to children on television and so forth. For example, I wonder how many people saw a programme called "Painted Babes" recently about what was really the sexual exploitation of small girls in America where they were dolled up by their mothers for beauty competitions at the age of five. When one thinks of the trouble Graham Greene got into years ago for pointing to the activities of Shirley Temple and saying that there was a sexual element to it, I wonder what one would have to think of programmes such as this one. The Minister's point that so much of my Bill is subjective is important here, because I suppose one could say that those who look at these sorts of programmes are getting a sexual thrill from them too.

I thank Senator Mulcahy for saying that Fianna Fáil welcomes the Bill and take his points about the overlap between my Bill and those of his colleagues in the other House. But there are differences too, because what is important about this Bill is that we can actually do something about it here and need not rely on getting evidence from anywhere else in the world in order to deal with the situation and companies here. He asked what our response was to companies and Governments who allowed the exploitation of children. We are keen on fine words, not just in Ireland but also internationally, with regard to things that happen in Third World countries but are not so enthusiastic about putting our money where our mouth is.

I thank Senator Cosgrave for welcoming the Bill. Senator Gallagher said something which is really most sad. Women and, indeed, children are brought in to service Third World agencies, be they military, peace-keeping or whatever, which were sent abroad to help. Senator Roche was right to point out the great work of the Irish Commission for Justice and Peace in this area.

With the help of the Department, we can bring forward legislation which will deal with the matter. In particular, we might give ourselves a target date of Ireland's Presidency of the EU, as several Senators suggested. It is important, as other Senators pointed out, because if legislation is enacted abroad, this country could be used as a sort of haven out of which some people could operate. If the Minister could address the problems with this Bill as soon as possible, I would be grateful.

Question put and agreed to.

When is it proposed to take Committee Stage?

Next Wednesday.

Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, 14 February 1996.
Sitting suspended at 1 p.m. and resumed at 2 p.m.