Monday, April 7, 2014

A request to Prime Minister Tony Abbott that he get Chief of Staff Peta Credlin to ask questions that Foreign Minister Julie Bishop refuses to ask

Chita (left) and Rosa (right) during a rare home visit in 2013. Their mother, Chanti, is behind them, pointing.

James Ricketson
Europe Guest House
# 51, Street 136
Phnom Penh
015611478; 017 898 361

The Hon. Tony Abbott, MP

Prime Minister

Parliament House


7th April 2014

Dear Prime Minister

I have written several letters recently to Foreign Minister Julie Bishop regarding the illegal removal of children from their materially poor parents in Cambodia by Australian Non Government Organizations. I have received no response.

Chita's last day at home in July 2008, with dad, Chhork, new baby Srey Ka and mum, Chanti

This ‘stealing’ of children, along with  indoctrination of them into the Christian faith is being funded by tax-deductible Australian dollars - in contravention of Cambodian law, of AusAID rules regarding proselytizing, and of the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID)  Code of Conduct.

Australia’s Ambassador to Cambodia, Ms Alison Burrows, AusAID and ACFID have given their tacit approval for these illegal removals by refusing to ask these NGOs for documented evidence of the legality of their actions.  I am referring here to two NGOs in particular – Brisbane-based Citipointe church’s ‘SHE Rescue Home’ and its funding partner the Global Development Group (GDG).

Chita kisses her baby sister, Srey Ka on her last day of freedom
Of all of the many questions that should be asked of Citipointe and GDG, AusAID and ACFID, two stand out. They require only ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers. The asking of them would take five minutes and the answering of them by the NGOs would only take five minutes also. Supplying documents in support of these answers (scanned and sent via the internet) would take half an hour.  

“Did Citipointe’s ‘SHE Rescue Home’ abide by Cambodian law in 2008 when the removed two girls, aged 3 and 6 at the time, from their materially poor family?”

Chita here in the hands, literally, of the Christians who are just about to make her mum Chanti an offer too good to refuse!

The answer to this question is to be found in two Memoranda of Understanding that Citipointe entered into with the Cambodian Ministries of Foreign and Social Affairs in 2008 and 2009 respectively. I have been asking this question for five years now. Neither Citipointe nor GDG will provide the relevant MOUs to the parents of the girls removed from their care, to myself (as their legally appointed advocate) or to anyone else who asks to see them.

After a prayer meeting and singalong Rosa, Chita, other kids and their parents have been well groomed for the offer that is just about to be made by Citipointe church

The second question relates to the Cambodian Ministry of Social Affairs guidelines on alternative care for children: 

“The rights of parental authority over their children remain with the family unless it has gone through the courts and the family relinquishes all responsibility”.

Chanti and Chhork have not ‘relinquished reponsibility’. On the contrary, they have been asking that their daughters be returned to them for five years now.
Question number 2 is this:

“If a Cambodian court awarded custody to Citipointe, could the church and/or its funding partner, the Global Development Group, please provide a copy of a legal document to this effect?”

Food parcels handed out by Citipointe to the kids and parents

Given that you have, in Peta Credlin, a Chief of Staff  who does not suffer fools gladly and who is unafraid of asking difficult questions and expecting answers (as opposed to spin), perhaps Peta could get on the phone and ask these two questions of Citipointe church and the Global Development Group. If they cannot supply documented proof of the legality of their actions, the tax-deductible status of Citipointe’s ‘SHE Rescue Home’ and the Global Development Group should be revoked.

Along with a food parcel, Chanti is about to be offered assistance by Citipointe that seems, to her and to me,  to be very generous and with the best of intentions to help the entire family.

If Citipointe is guilty of ‘illegal removal’ of Rosa and Chita in 2008 (in accordance with Cambodian law) and of proselytizing (AusAID rules) and has breached the ACFID Code of Conduct I believe that the Federal police should be asked to investigate to see what Australian laws the NGO may have broken.

yours sincerely

James Ricketson

A few months later Citipointe gives Chanti and Chhork this photo - leaving them in no doubt that it is the church's intention to turn their Buddhist daughter into a Pentecostal Christian. This is contrary to AusAID guildeines but no-onw within AusAID, the Australian Embassy or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is at all concerned by this blatant evangelising on the part of Citipointe

Mr James Ricketson


Dear Mr Ricketson
Thank you for your correspondence dated 07 April 2014 to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister has asked me to thank you for your correspondence.

Your views are noted and they are important. A strong democracy and a responsive government always require constant feedback from its people about the issues that concern them.

The matters raised in your correspondence relate to the portfolio responsibilities of the Minister for Foreign Affairs. As such, the Prime Minister has referred your correspondence for a response.

Further details about contacting the Minister and department can be found at
Thank you again for writing to the Prime Minister. Yours sincerely

Ministerial and Parliamentary Support Branch 07 April 2014

Postal Address: PO BOX 6500, CANBERRA ACT 2600
Telephone: +61 2 6271 5111 Fax: +61 2 6271 5414 ABN: 18 108 001 191

Reference Number: C14/26007
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