The Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) is highly concerned about the relatively
new and rapidly growing form of human trafficking, cybersex trafficking.
NXT acknowledges the committees comments in relation to this issue,
however we believe the committee could have gone further in its
NXT agree with the International Justice Mission (IJM), which stated it
its submission that ‘not enough is currently being done to address these crimes
in the Australian intergovernmental response to human trafficking’.
During committee hearings Senator Skye Kakoschke-Moore put questions to
representatives from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
regarding their concerns about cybersex trafficking.
Mr Benjamin Smith of UNODC stated that their understanding is that the
incidents of cybersex trafficking are quite high.
In their submission to this inquiry IJM also noted that both the Australian
Federal Police (AFP) and the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions
(CDPP) have reported increases in cybersex trafficking cases over the past
NXT agree with the committee’s recommendations regarding the adequate
funding of: Commonwealth government programs, Australian Federal Police
staffing and training, and of the National Action Plan to Combat Human
Trafficking and Slavery 2015-19. NXT agrees that adequate funding be
provided to Australian law enforcement agencies to ensure that they are able to
effectively combat and investigate human trafficking offences.
In their submission IJM call for the Australian Government to provide
adequate resources to improve their investigation of cybersex trafficking
IJM state that ‘the successful identification and arrest of cybersex
traffickers requires further enhancement of state and federal capabilities with
respect to covert investigation techniques’.
As noted in the committee report a number of witnesses and submissions
recommended that adequate funding be provided to further the aims of the National
Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking and Slavery 2015-19.
During Committee hearings Senator Kakoschke-Moore asked UNODC whether
they believed Australian law enforcement agencies are sufficiently resourced to
sufficiently manage matters of cybersex crime.
Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: I was just asking whether, in
your view, Australian law enforcement officers operating overseas have
sufficient resources to do their job in respect to human trafficking?
Mr Douglas: I must say we have a very good working
relationship with Australian law enforcement overseas, both with the Australian
Federal Police and with the Australian Border Force where we see them located.
We do see this as a transnational crime from our perspective in the way we are
looking at it and discussing it to today. The resource needs to address
transnational crime are growing.
...What I am getting at is the capacity of the public security
systems to keep up with that movement is not necessarily there, and Australia
is heavily networked to this region so probably you will see increasing
connection of people coming through this region towards Australia for different
types of opportunities so potentially there would be need for more resources to
be able to handle the operational needs here in the region. You could probably
say that is in relation to the number of crimes but this is definitely one area
where, while there is some capacity, in some places there is probably more
NXT are concerned that Australian law enforcement bodies are not
adequately resourced to manage the recent increase in cybersex crime due to the
unfortunate rapid expansion of criminal activity in this area.
NXT recommend that further funding be provided to Australian law
enforcement agencies to adequately combat cybersex trafficking.
NXT agrees with the committee’s recommendation that the Commonwealth
government investigate the adequacy of current legislative provisions and
NXT recommends that the federal government amend offences under
the Commonwealth legislative provisions to ensure that the conduct of offenders
engaging in cybersex trafficking falls within the relevant criminal provisions
and can be effectively prosecuted by Australian law enforcement bodies.
NXT also believe that the efforts of law enforcement agencies must not
be hampered by internet service providers being unwilling to cooperate with
Australian agencies undertaking investigative work into cybersex trafficking.
As raised by Ms Kimberly Randle during committee hearings, IJM
[R]eporting requirements on internet service
providers—legislation in the Commonwealth Criminal Code relating to internet
service providers and their duty to report—be amended. In terms of an internet
service provider's responsibility to report this abhorrent crime on their own
network, Australia's legislation, I would submit, is not as tight as it could
be. There is international legislation that could be used as a guide to amend
those provisions in the Commonwealth code so that internet service providers have
a greater responsibility to report information when this occurs on their
As reported by Alex McDonald on the 7.30 Report, ABC, in almost a
fifth of cybersex trafficking cases police are not getting the vital
information they need from internet service providers (ISPs). McDonald reports
that cooperation from ISPs is not always forthcoming, and that it is often
difficult to obtain the crucial evidence from ISPs such as subscriber records,
IP addresses and mobile data.
NXT recommends that amendments be made to strengthen the Criminal
Code by clarifying what information must be provided by internet service
providers and internet content hosts where the information requested is in the
possession or control of the internet service provider/content host. The type
of information NXT believe must be handed over includes names, email addresses,
billing addresses, geographic location and user names.
IJM also raised concerns within their submission about the
appropriateness of the current provisions within the Criminal Code (Cth), as
they relate to cybersex offences. IJM recommends that ‘the Australian
government should give consideration to legal avenues by which to prosecute
cybersex trafficking offences as a sexual servitude or slavery offence, or as
aiding or procuring such offences’.
IJM put to the committee that there are ten provisions within the Criminal Code
(Cth) through which a cybersex crime may be prosecuted, but claim that further
clarity and consideration of the current laws be undertaken.
NXT are concerned about the lack of aggravated offences within the
relevant aspects of the Criminal Code. NXT believe that such horrific offences
should include aggravation provisions.
IJM note in their submission that the updating of offences relating to
cybersex trafficking should include provisions relating to aggravated offences.
IJM laments the lack of aggravated offences in the current Criminal Code and
compares it to similar aspects of the NSW Crimes Act:
For example, under the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) s 66C(5),
the presence of another person is a circumstance of aggravation that
effectively increases the sentences for the offences of sexual intercourse with
persons between 10 and 14 and between 14 and 16. The explanation of this
circumstance of aggravation is that it can work to ‘embolden or reassure the
offender in committing the crime’. The Commonwealth offences involving sexual
activity with or procurement of a child via the internet and the State offences
concerning child abuse material do not have similar aggravating circumstances,
despite the fact that third parties are often present and produce the same
NXT recommends amendments be made to the Criminal Code to include
the following situations:
Where the child is, or reasonably appears to be, under 10 years
This is designed to capture
offences committed against very young children. NXT recognises that it may be
difficult for law enforcement agencies to obtain birth certificates to confirm
the exact age of the victim.
Where an act of torture, cruelty or degrading treatment is done
to the child while the underlying offence is being committed.
babies having hot wax dripped on them.
Where a person pays a fee or reward for the abuse to be
perpetrated against a child.
NXT understand that not all
abuse against a child is paid for. This amendment recognises that where a fee
or reward is paid, profit is essentially being derived as a result of a child
NXT is highly concerned about the increase in cybersex trafficking, and
in particular cyber trafficking and exploitation of children. NXT wish for
Australia to take a strong stance against cybersex trafficking and for it to be
a world leader in the prevention and eradication of cybersex trafficking.
Senator for South
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