US wants Canada to share travel information of convicted child sex offenders

The U.S. government says it is frustrated that Ottawa refuses to routinely notify Washington when Canadians convicted of child sex offenses travel to the United States, noting that it alerts Canada when the same class of U.S. offenders travel here.

Americans say Canada cites federal privacy law as the reason.

Both the United States and Canada have sex offender registries, and child sex predators are required to report any plans to travel outside the country to law enforcement authorities. In the United States, this information is used to alert their destination countries.

Angel Watch Center, part of the Homeland Security Investigations Unit of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, is required by law to notify all countries to which registered sex offenders travel outside the United States. United States.

“I confirm that we send notices in Canada on child sex offenders and that this is done every time they travel. And they [Canadians] are made aware,” Angel Watch section chief Daniel Kenney said in an interview. “No, we have not received reciprocal information…In the past, we have been told that privacy laws prevent them from sharing this information.”

Mr Kenney said the US government would like Ottawa to change its laws to allow the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency to provide information on the travel plans of all registered sex offenders.

“We’re just trying to continually encourage them to share this information with us and it would be beneficial for us to receive that as well,” he said. “We will continue to share with other countries, but we would greatly appreciate a reciprocal notification.”

The US Department of Homeland Security has access to US airline and cruise ship manifests, which it sifts through databases to determine if anyone who will be on board has been convicted of child sexual abuse. Information is shared with Canadian authorities 24 to 48 hours prior to travel.

In November 2021, two convicted pedophiles were turned away from Pearson International Airport after Homeland Security notified Canada of their trip to Toronto, according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter. In October, three American passengers convicted of child sex abuse were barred from getting off a cruise ship in Vancouver.

In 2019, US officials informed Canada that 64 convicted child molesters were on cruise ships, allowing Canadian Border Service agents to deny them permission to land, the source said. The Globe and Mail does not identify the source as they have not been authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

RCMP Staff Sergeant Alain Gagnon, manager of the National Sex Offender Registry, said the database is governed by the Sex Offender Registry Act. The law prohibits the RCMP from sharing information about convicted sex offenders with another country unless it has proof that an offense is going to be committed.

All federal laws in Canada must comply with the Privacy Act, which states that information about Canadians cannot be routinely shared.

“We may release information to a police service outside of Canada when necessary to assist them in preventing or investigating a crime of a sexual nature,” said Staff Sergeant. Gagnon said in an interview. “It’s really the only thing we can use as authorization to notify another country of a sex offender’s journey.”

The Privacy Commissioner’s website says this information should not be shared “on a systematic or routine basis.”

Canada shared information about a child sex offender with another country for the first time in January 2019, Staff Sgt. said Gagnon. RCMP alerted authorities in the Dominican Republic that a Canadian was planning to fly from Toronto to Sosua Bay, a known destination for child sex offenders. He was returned to Canada after his plane landed. Later that year, the RCMP also notified the United States of the travel of two “high-risk” Canadian sex offenders, Staff Sgt. said Gagnon.

In 2021, the RCMP notified four countries of the travel of Canadian child sex offenders, and so far this year there have been three notifications, but none were in the United States, Staff Sgt. said Gagnon.

Former RCMP commissioner Bob Paulson said the RCMP would like to regularly share information with the United States on child sexual predators, but are reluctant due to privacy concerns.

“I think the impact of these types of crimes is offset by the general notion of privacy taken to a very extreme level,” he said.

Just before retiring in 2017, Mr Paulson said he had launched a ‘crazy campaign’ to engage the government on the ‘scope and scale’ of child sexual exploitation, but he didn’t didn’t go very far.

He added that preventative measures like this tend to be “frowned upon” in Canada.

“I would like to see courageous steps taken in terms of sharing this information,” he said. “Carefully, of course.”

The RCMP database has over 59,069 registered sex offenders, and of these, approximately 72% have committed sex crimes against children. These offenders must provide the RCMP registry with their dates of birth, employment information, addresses, photograph and physical description. They must notify the RCMP when they plan to travel in Canada or abroad.

In the United States, Megan’s International Law to Prevent the Demand for Child Sex Trafficking requires the Department of State to place a “unique identifier” on the passports of convicted child sex offenders. It also requires such offenders to notify law enforcement at least 21 days before traveling abroad.

Mr. Kenney said about 10 countries provide reciprocal notifications to the United States. He declined to say which, but said many European countries also refuse to share this information due to privacy laws.

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