Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Aust to investigate ACE after year-old child-sex allegations

Aust to investigate ACE after year-old child-sex allegations

Aust to investigate ACE after year-old child-sex allegations

AUSTRALIAN Federal police will investigate claims that an Australian Government-funded

school in Cambodia was used to procure children for abuse by Australian pedophiles

with links to a diplomat.

The investigation will examine whether people associated with the school, called

the Australian Centre for Education (ACE), used their jobs to befriend underage sex

victims.

The allegations about the school are at the centre of claims about pedophilia linked

to Australian diplomats that prompted an independent federal inquiry announced this

week by Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer.

The claims relate to the activities of a group of Australian homosexual friends associated

with the school.

At least one of the men is a suspected pedophile.

One foreigner, not an Australian, employed by the school was found to have had a

young boy in his house. The men sometimes held parties in the home of the diplomat,

who is no longer in Phnom Penh.

The men have also left the country, which became a favored destination for the

world's pedophiles in the early 1990s. But at least one of them has a new job that

gives him access to children.

The school, regarded as one of the most successful Australian aid projects in Cambodia,

runs English-language and other programs for 4,000 students, most of them adult.

It also runs classes for teenagers.

The school has received hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in Australian aid

money.

The director of the school, Paul Mahony, said that since he arrived in Phnom Penh

12 months ago there has not been any suggestion of problems like pedophilia at the

school, which has branches in three Cambodian provinces.

"There are some allegations around Cambodia," he said. "It is going

on in Australia too. I suppose we should expect mud in all directions."

Mahony declined to reveal how much Australian Government money goes to the school.

But it has been the focal project of Australia's $30 million a year civilian aid

program for Cambodia.

Hundreds of Cambodian military officers and other government workers have learnt

English at the school at Australia's expense.

Downer decided on an inquiry independent of the Department of Foreign Affairs and

Trade after the Sydney-based Sun-Herald newspaper published allegations that Australian

aid money was used to provide victims for Australian paedophiles.

The allegations include that diplomats organized weekend trips with orphans and other

children for the perverted pleasure of visiting friends.

The inquiry will ask the federal police to investigate the allegations which have

been made by former and still serving diplomats.

The allegations are regarded as among the most serious ever made against the department,

which employs 4,000 people.

The allegations have severely embarrassed the Howard Government as it works to cement

ties in Asia.

The Cambodian Government is understood to have been concerned about the suspected

activities of some Australians in Phnom Penh. It warned in an unofficial communication

to Canberra about one person in 1993, according to Phnom Penh government sources.

No action was taken by Australian authorities.

Some foreign aid workers in Phnom Penh were suspicious of the men's activities, but

there was a reluctance to speak out. A public scandal could affect aid funds. One

aid worker with a group that campaigned against child sex was quietly pressured to

leave Phnom Penh after suspicions he was sexually abusing a teenager, according to

aid organization sources.

There is a concern among aid workers that accusations about paedophilia not be confused

with homosexual practices and that any inquiry not be "homophobic."

MOST VIEWED

  • Negotiations on EBA being held

    In an effort to defuse tensions, a senior government official said Cambodia is negotiating with the European Union (EU) on the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade deal, which allows the Kingdom to export goods to the 28-member bloc tariff-free. The EU notified Cambodia on October 5

  • Ministers to tackle sea pollutants

    Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities and members of local communities have collected 77 tonnes of water hyacinth at a Sihanoukville beach, Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall spokesperson Or Saroeun said. He told The Post yesterday that the aquatic weeds had been floating along some of the province’s

  • Chinese police escort deported scam suspects

    Ninety-one Chinese nationals accused of extorting money from victims in a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) scam were deported from Phnom Penh International Airport on Monday under the escort of 182 Chinese police personnel. General Department of Immigration head of investigations Ouk Hay Seila told reporters

  • Sam Rainsy, government group set to clash at IPU Geneva meet?

    Opposition figure Sam Rainsy has been invited to speak at the General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Geneva, according to a former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmaker. A government delegation is also set to attend the meeting, a National Assembly press release