Australians continue to prey on children in Indonesia, despite the arrest of a confessed offender, Mark Forbes reports.
They are “more beautiful than flowers” says Peter Smith of the Indonesian boys whose photographs adorn the walls of his Jakarta home. As young as 11, he lured them to his house with the promise of money and work, made them pose, masturbate, then requested sex.
Dirt-poor children who scrabble for a living on Jakarta’s streets, the faces of the boys abused by Smith still look achingly young, but there is no petal-softness left in their eyes.
According to police in Jakarta, more than 50 Indonesian boys have been abused by Smith, who was convicted for molesting his Aboriginal pupils in a remote Northern Territory school in 1994. On release from jail he changed his name, received a new passport and came to Indonesia, where he was employed as a teacher by the Australian Government-established and supervised Indonesia Australia Language Foundation.
There, Smith struck up a friendship with a fellow teacher, Don Hancock, who was also accused of pedophile offences while teaching in Australia.
An investigation by the Herald has confirmed Smith and Hancock had sex with some of the same boys, producing explicit photographs and videos. Two victims say that a third teacher who had been associated with the language foundation was also involved.
Their activities are far from isolated. Because of incompetence, a lack of interest or corruption, Indonesian authorities often turn a blind eye to pedophile activity. Some cases may be prosecuted by under-resourced police, but there are no co-ordinated investigations into wider pedophile rings.
Australian authorities have notified Indonesia that at least a dozen other alleged pedophiles present a threat to Indonesian children – but no action has been taken against them. Warnings have not been passed on to local police, or the institutions employing them.
Increased public scrutiny and the recent arrests of Smith and a second Australian, Don Storen, who was running a beach resort on Lombok, have made the trade more surreptitious. But for Australians and other pedophiles who prey on poverty and ignorance, children are easily available.
In Jakarta one phone call can summon a broker, who presents a photographic menu of youngsters for delivery to homes or hotels for less than $50. On the holiday islands of Bali and Lombok the Herald was offered boys and girls as young as 13 by pimps working the streets of seaside resorts, and children reeled off the names of several Australian “regulars”.