What "kidnapper" did after 60 Minutes' botched abduction
WHEN Adam Whittington left Lebanon after the much-publicised 60 Minutes child abduction last July, there were three things on his mind.
Firstly, seeing his family. Second, putting out his side of the story, and importantly, his new project which was already underway.
PRC - Project Rescue Children - is a not for profit organisation which launched in the UK in November, before opening a base in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Australia will follow in June. The motto is, "We hunt those who hunt children".
"We are working directly with Cambodian authorities to combat human trafficking, child prostitution and sexual exploitation," Whittington exclusively tells news.com.au.
"We have six guys on the ground in Cambodia - five are ex Australian Army, one is ex New Zealand military. We will not give up on innocent children who are being abused on 'sex holidays'. Around two million children are exploited every year in the global commercial sex trade. We give hope, and help to rehabilitate those children."
CARI AND CHILD ABDUCTION
Between work for CARI [Child Abduction Recovery International which was involved with the 60 Minutes debacle] and PRC, Adam doesn't have much time to spend with his own family.
"The amount of children being abducted is never going to decrease. The world is getting smaller," Whittington said.
"Why can't there be ad campaigns on back covers of magazines on planes, warning people about the risks of having children with someone from overseas? A situation like Lebanon makes headlines but what have people learnt?"
"Look at the divorce statistics - this is the reality of what happens to most relationships. All around the world, parents spend all the money they can find fighting to get their children back in court, for years sometimes. They get the result; they get the piece of paper that says their child should be returned to them. Then what? Nothing.
"The Australian government must make it illegal for any parents of another nationality to take children overseas without permission. Absolutely, that has to come first. Then the police stand a chance at intervening. Without that there is no enforcement."
SALLY FAULKNER AND LEBANON
Whittington's name made international headlines last year after a botched "child recovery" operation in Lebanon set up with a 60 Minutes production crew went horribly wrong.
The case landed Whittington, his colleague Craig Michael and two Lebanese men in jail, as well as four Channel Nine staffers including high-profile reporter Tara Brown.
Producer Stephen Rice was sacked over the incident and the Nine team were allowed to leave jail after the children's father agreed to drop charges against them - reportedly for a payment of around $500,000.
Whittington spent four months in Lebanon following the bungle and said it has lead the company to change its policy so "we don't take on cases now where parents only have legal custody in one country."
"I will say this though; there was no way that Sally [Faulkner] was going to get her kids back through the Lebanese courts. I genuinely felt sorry for Sally."
"I spent 20 minutes in the safe house with her and her children, and those kids; they want to be with her. They're in a foreign country and they miss their mother. It's impossible not to become emotionally invested in cases."
"Sometimes we make money on jobs, sometimes we make losses, my main driver is always the children. I spent a year racking my brain about what I could do to help children whose lives were being ruined and stolen by sex traffickers - I'm proud of what PRC is achieving."
PRC, SEX TRAFFICKING AND FIRST AID
"In the work I do, both with PRC and with CARI, you would not believe how in your face sex trafficking is. I've seen it, for years," he says.
"Parents will walk up to us in some of these towns and ask, "Do you want to our children for sex?" They literally come up and ask to your face. How can anyone not want to protect these kids? I'm a father of two boys; my passion for child welfare and safety continues to grow. I see it in the guys who work with me too, when they've held their own newborn in their arms, they fight even harder for the kids we're here to help."
He said the PRC team in Cambodia will do first aid on the ground as is in talks with various Australian hopsitals to secure donated medical supplies.
"People may think that the work CARI do - especially after Lebanon - is controversial. I get that. With PRC, there's not one person that will say we're not doing something beneficial," he says.
"The public response and donations already have been tremendous. We're having a fundraiser on June 3 on the Gold Coast, which we're hoping politicians will attend. Derryn Hinch has expressed interest; we will be trying to rally the Australian government to make major changes to protect children. The bottom line is, current Australian laws are pathetic."