ABF Takes ‘Zero Tolerance Approach’ to Travellers With Child Exploitation Material

Mimi Nguyen Ly
By Mimi Nguyen Ly
July 14, 2018Australia
ABF Takes ‘Zero Tolerance Approach’ to Travellers With Child Exploitation Material
So far in July 2018, the Australian Border Force has arrested three individuals possession of child exploitation material. (Australian Border Police)

Child exploitation material is being discovered regularly at Australian Airports on both foreign travellers and Australian citizens, arriving in and departing from the country. In July, the Australian Border Force has reported on three cases of people being found with such prohibited material.

The incidence of these offences has risen to the point that, in March, the Australian Government established the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation. The Centre aims to maximise efforts among law enforcement and intelligence agencies such as the ABF to detect and combat such behaviours.

Last week on July 6, a 20-year-old Saudi Arabian man was arrested when ABF officials found multiple videos of child exploitation when they checked his two mobile phones and his laptop.

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A 20-year-old Saudi Arabian national who arrived into Sydney airport on Friday July 6 was arrested and charged after child exploitation material was located in his baggage. (Australian Border Force)

The man, Abdullah Yousef Al Ahmed, came from Malaysia and was planning to stay in Australia on a tourist visa, according to The Daily Telegraph. He was charged with intentionally importing a prohibited good into Australia.

He was transferred to Mascot police station and appeared in court via a video link on July 7, where he was granted bail to appear in September and must report to police daily while living at a Seven Hills address, the Daily Telegraph reported. He also had to surrender his passport.

On July 10, Australian Border Force (ABF) officers at Melbourne Airport found a 38-year-old Malaysian man with two videos and 20 photos of child exploitation material on his mobile phone. They seized his phone, cancelled his visa and transferred the man to an immigration centre to be deported.

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A 38-year-old Malaysian male who arrived into Melbourne airport on Tuesday, July 10 was removed from Australia after he was found with child exploitation material. (Australian Border Force)

A day later, ABF officers at Perth Airport found another Malaysian man, 43, with “abhorrent” material on his mobile phone, which contained “videos depicting extreme sexual depravity and violence”. They seized the phone and cancelled his visa. The man was kicked out of Australia on July 13.

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An ABF officer examining the 43-year-old Malaysian man’s baggage at Perth International Airport. (Australian Border Force)

The ABF have made 186 seizures of objectionable material in 2017-18, the Daily Telegraph reported.

“Child exploitation is a global issue, and is not limited to any nationality. Recently we’ve detected passengers from Malaysia, Sierra Leone, China and India, but we also see Australian citizens both arriving and departing with child exploitation material,” ABF Regional Commander for NSW, Danielle Yannopoulos told the Daily Telegraph.

“Individuals that view and possess this kind of material are fuelling a global trade in child exploitation that puts vulnerable young people at risk both here and overseas,” Yannopoulos said.

Other ABF authorities have said that the agency takes a zero tolerance approach to material of this nature, and will not “hesitate to detain and remove from Australia anyone found in possession of them.”

ABF Acting Commander Enforcement Command, Matt Stock, said the ABF sees many such cases regularly.

The maximum penalty for an individual importing or exporting child exploitation material is $180,000 and/or imprisonment for 10 years.

Anyone with information about individuals coming through the border with illicit material, including child exploitation material, should report to Border Watch at australia.gov.au/borderwatch, and can remain anonymous.

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