Australian territory to launch public sex offender website

SYDNEY (AFP) - Australia's Northern Territory said Wednesday it will make public personal details and locations of convicted sex offenders in a move modelled on "Megan's Law" in the United States.

The legislation introducing the serious sex offender website - the first of its kind in Australia - will be named "Daniel's Law" in memory of 13-year-old Daniel Morcombe.

Mr Morcombe was abducted in northern Queensland in 2003 and murdered by a serial sex offender. His parents have been campaigning for the establishment of such a website, which will be launched next year.

"It is the role of government to protect the community and educate them about potential dangers," Northern Territory Attorney-General John Elferink said in a statement.

"While Northern Territory police will continue to track and monitor around 200 sex offenders in the community, this tool is designed to deliver information to the community about the most serious offenders in an easy, user-friendly way."

Mr Elferink said his government wanted the community to be "well-informed" and able to take precautions to protect their children from predators. "We believe that the public's right to know takes precedence over the privacy concerns of serious sex offenders," he added.

While Western Australia state launched a sex offender website in 2012, requests are required to access some of the information. No other state or territory makes such information publicly available.

On the Northern Territory website, convicted sex offenders' images, physical descriptions and regional locations would be accessible.

The exact home addresses of the offender and specific details of the crime committed will not be published to reduce the risk of vigilantism and protect the identity of previous victims, the government said.

Morcombe's parents, Bruce and Denise, said they were "honoured and humbled that the Northern Territory government has committed to naming the legislation 'Daniel's Law'".

"We truly hope that the introduction of 'Daniel's Law' will prevent another family going through the pain and grief we experienced following Daniel's death," the couple said.

In the United States, many states have introduced "Megan's Law", which requires them to provide the public with information on the whereabouts of sex offenders.

Britain introduced its version of "Megan's Law" in 2011. "Sarah's Law" allows parents to find out from the police if a person who has contact with children is a child sex offender.