Media release from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

D2 / 6 February 2003

Betterridge's Passport Cancelled 

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 case.

Media inquiries: 02 6261 1555