Time has an interesting article detailing growing support for an international sex offender registry. A bill, H.R. 1623, was introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) earlier this year to do just that. The bill, which you can read about here, would alert foreign officials whenever a U.S. sex offender intends to travel and encourages other countries to return the favor. From the article:
The case has reinvigorated support for H.R. 1623, the "International Megan's law," which Representative Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican, introduced in March 2009. If passed, the bill would alert officials abroad when U.S. sex offenders intend to travel and would encourage other countries to keep sex-offender lists and notify American officials about offenders' U.S. travel plans. U.S. law can grab American predators overseas.
Human-rights organizations say an International Megan's Law would be a step in the right direction. "If we know someone is committing serious crimes at home or overseas, we want to accurately identify them," says Karen Stauss of the Polaris Project, an organization dedicated to combating human-trafficking. Amanda Bissex, UNICEF Thailand's chief of child protection, agrees that H.R. 1623 would benefit vulnerable children. "We need to improve law enforcement and the economic welfare of children," says Bissex, "but we also need to address people's attitudes and create an environment where there is zero tolerance for abuse of children, whether in their home country or overseas."
One of the wrinkles that I think is important in evaluating such a law is what countries will do with the information. In the case of state registries, the laws prohibit the information for being used to harass, attack, or discriminate. Since the U.S. has no power over countries receiving the information, unless bilateral or multilateral agreements are reached, other nations might bar all offenders from travel or subject them to extra punishment/regulation. At the very least, hopefully lawmakers recognize the errors of past laws by defining "sex offender" narrowly.