Media release from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
On the instruction of the Foreign Minister, Mr Downer, the Department of
Foreign Affairs and Trade has today cancelled the passport issued to Clint
Betterridge while he was on bail in Cambodia on charges of debauchery.
Mr Betterridge used the passport to flee Cambodia prior to his trial in
Siem Reap on 29 January where he was sentenced in absentia to 10 years' imprisonment.
Under the Act, the Minister has the discretion to refuse a passport in certain
situations including where a person might endanger the health, safety or
rights and freedoms of other persons either in Australia or abroad.
Revised instructions have now been issued to all overseas posts underlining
the requirement for such matters to receive high-level attention, including
formal dialogue between the Head of the post and senior officers in Canberra. Instructions
have also been issued that in such circumstances the matters should be actively
considered for referral to the Minister for the exercise of Ministerial discretion.
Senior officials from the Department and the Attorney General's Department
are now examining possible grounds for either the extradition of Mr Betterridge
to Cambodia or charges against him under Australian legislation.
Australia has a strong bilateral relationship with Cambodia, particularly
on transnational issues such as Child Sex Tourism.
We are confident that this cooperation will continue in dealing with this
Media inquiries: 02 6261 1555