Yesterday, on Monday, February 8, 2016, President Obama signed bill H.R. 515 into law, establishing International Megan’s Law. This bill has received significant criticism from human civil rights and advocacy organizations, equating the effects of the bill to the yellow star worn by Jews during the Nazi Germany era. The bill’s sponsor, New Jersey House Representative, Chris Smith, stated in a Washington Post article that he believed that the law will prevent Megan’s Law sex offenders from engaging in child sex tourism.
The main features of the new Internation Megan’s Law include, but are not limited to the following:
- It establishes the “Angel Watch Center.” The Center will exchange information with foreign countries if an American, who have been convicted of a sex crime and is a registered sex offender, intends to travel abroad, and a foreign resident with a sex offense history intends on entering the United States. In addition, the Angel Watch Center will maintain a database of information in connection with the implementation of International Megan’s Law, such as responses from receiving countries or decision not to transmit a notification to a foreign country.
- The law designates the United States Marshall Service’s National Sex Offender Targeting Center response for the transmittal of notification of an offender’s intended travel plans to foreign countries.
- Requires registered sex offenders to provide the following information if he or she plans to travel: the anticipated travel dates, the places of departure and arrival, the flight numbers for air travel, any addresses and other contact information while in the foreign country, and the purpose of traveling and itinerary.
- The most controversial element of the new law is that it requires a passport identifier, in a conspicuous place, on the passports of registered sex offenders. Any registered offender who currently possesses a passport, will have it revoked, and reissued with the identifier. The law does not provide any provisions on if or when this identifier may be removed.
Numerous elements of this International Megan’s Law bill, such as the establishment of the Angel Watch Center, need to be implemented and completed within 90 days of the president’s signature.