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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Holloway not 'named' from Cambodia

Holloway not 'named' from Cambodia

Holloway not 'named' from Cambodia

F IVE words uttered in the Australian Parliament - "John Holloway is a pedophile"

- have stunned both the accused and Cambodian child welfare groups.

"This

came as a complete and utter shock and had nothing to do with us," said Tony

Culnane, who runs a World Vision street kid center in Phnom Penh, of the

allegation which rocked Australia.

"We didn't name names," he said of

information which local NGOs had earlier sent to the Australian government about

alleged Australian pedophiles in Cambodia.

Meanwhile Holloway, the former

Australian ambassador now a top adviser to the Cambodian Foreign Ministry, says

his reputation has been tainted forever.

Holloway - who refused to talk

to the Phnom Penh Post - told the Sydney Morning Herald that his

accuser, backbench MP Ken Aldred, had no evidence.

"His statement

regarding me is strictly untrue. I am angered because parliamentary privilege

enables him to slander innocent citizens without any

repercussions."

"This is a travesty of justice and an abuse of free

speech," said Holloway, 52.

But, he believes, the damage is done. No

matter how many times he denies the allegation, it will be believed, and his

future career has evaporated overnight.

Aside from sensational headlines,

all Aldred has won at home is the anger of both his own Opposition leadership

and government ministers.

Aldred had a big week - prior to naming

Holloway as one of 20 diplomats who were pedophiles, the MP claimed Australia's

chief diplomat Michael Costello had received $1 million from an Israeli secret

agent with links to South American drug lords.

That statement led Foreign

Affairs Minister Gareth Evans to describe Aldred's allegation as "the lowest

form of political and human behavior."

Aldred's "pedophile" speech,

however, landed him in hotter water. His own party - taken by surprise by his

claims - called them regrettable.

The Australian attorney-general, Mr

Lavarch, said Aldred's comments were the worst breach of Parliamentary privilege

he had seen in 17 years.

But for all that Holloway's reputation has been

damaged - and perhaps, ironically, that of Aldred - there is greater concern

about the possible repercussions for attempts to track down

pedophiles.

Some child welfare workers in Cambodia have expressed concern

that the flurry of headlines will push the child sex trade underground, making

it harder to keep tabs on. Others, however, say it is high time that the issue

was thrust under public, and governmental, attention.

Regardless, child

care workers deny any responsibility for the claims made in the Australian

Parliament.

Aldred's June 5 allegations followed the sending of a

confidential request for help to deal with pedophiles in Cambodia to the

Australian Federal Police (AFP).

Both Australian Justice Minister Duncan

Kerr and World Vision Australia have said the request was for an investigation

into Australians involved in organized child-sex activities in

Cambodia.

Tony Culnane, however, maintains the request was merely for

advice on how to gather evidence against pedophiles, and for possible assistance

to the Cambodian police.

He says the request came from about 30 UN and

private agencies making up the Child Welfare Group in Cambodia, which recently

began monitoring known child prostitution pick-up places in Phnom

Penh.

"We are not following individuals, diplomats, businessmen or

visitors. We're just going to places to watch," Culnane said of the

work.

But the agencies wanted to know whether their observations could be

used as evidence under Australia's Child Sex Tourism Act, which allows

Australians involved in pedophilia abroad to be prosecuted at home.

"We

asked the Australian Federal Police 'Can you send somebody to give us some

advise on what does our observations mean in this context? Are they

valid?'

"We've had no formal response yet. Now we don't know whether we

will, given what's happened."

The AFP was also asked whether they would

be willing to help train Cambodian police officers if a child-protection police

unit were established in Phnom Penh.

Culnane says Holloway, or others,

were not named to the AFP.

"We didn't tell them the pick-up points. We

didn't name names...we asked for technical advice... We're not gunning for

Australians, we're trying to work out a way we can protect children."

In

Australia, however, NGOs have said they want an AFP investigation into

Australian pedophiles.

A World Vision spokeswoman was quoted as saying an

investigation was requested into "Australian expatriates, diplomats and

tourists" involved in pedophilia.

Another agency, End Child Prostitution

in Asian Tourism said: "We have information that prominent Australians and

foreign diplomats have been involved in these activities and we are asking the

government to investigate."

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs

has meanwhile started an internal inquiry into allegations diplomats have been

involved with pedophilia while on overseas service.

The allegations are

long-standing - some were raised as long ago as 1988, and others more

recently.

Two months ago, a Philippines senator alleged that two serving

Australian diplomats, and a former one, had molested children while posted to

Manila several years ago.

Meanwhile the only Australian diplomat to have

been publicly named in Australia, John Holloway, fears his career is

over.

"Who's going to give someone accused of this any responsible public

job?" he told the Herald.

Holloway, who is about to finish a year's

contract with the Cambodian Foreign Ministry and return to Canberra, said: "The

government has to decide whether I'm suitable for any of the senior posts now

available.

"Even when I'm exonerated I believe that these accusations

will still cause hesitation."

The former ambassador, who is divorced with

five adult children, said he found pedophilia abhorrent.

"I don't believe

it is a valid form of sexuality. I believe it is a crime. As someone who has

raised five children I can only say there is nothing acceptable about forcing

sexuality on children."

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