Court sentences Indonesian people-smugglers to jail

James Madden; 2/7/09; (5 Items)

Eleven Indonesian men convicted of smuggling asylum-seekers into Australia will each spend a minimum three years in jail. The men, aged between 19 and 67, were crewmen on vessels picked up by Australian authorities between December 2008 and March this year. Appearing in the Perth District Court yesterday, eight of the men were sentenced to a maximum five years’ jail with a three-year non-parole period. The other three received a maximum five years’ and six months jail and will also be eligible for parole in three years.


Malaysia not soft on boatpeople
Mark Dodd; 2/7/09
Malaysia is as serious as Australia in wanting to protect its borders against asylum-seekers, and reports of 10,000 boatpeople waiting to be smuggled to Australia are not supported by evidence, the country’s high commissioner, Salman Ahmad said. While “push factors” had increased the problem of asylum-seekers in the region, co-operation between Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia to tackle the problem was good, and it operated at the highest levels of government, Mr Ahmad told The Australian. The high commissioner rejected media reports that his government was soft on illegal migrants or that Malaysia was a convenient transit stop for people-smugglers. Like Australia, Malaysia had strict rules on immigration, which were being vigorously enforced, he said

Asylum via false papers on rise
Paul Maley; 2/7/09
There has been a sharp rise in the number of people lodging asylum claims on the basis of forged or missing documents. As border protection authorities battle to cope with a surge in boat-borne asylum-seekers, figures supplied by the Department of Immigration show a 30 per cent spike in the number of people presenting at Australian ports with fake or missing travel documents. In 2008-09, 102 people arrived in Australia with “improper documentation” before declaring themselves refugees. That compared with a total of 79 people in 2007-08, a rise of 29 per cent.

Tamil refugees forced into sex rackets
Amanda Hodge; 2/6/09
Conditions for about 300,000 refugees forcibly detained in camps across Sri Lanka remain dire, with reports of a prostitution racket run by officials in a remote camp.Aid workers told The Australian yesterday officials at the internally displaced people’s camp in Pulmoddai, a remote northeast region, are running the prostitution ring using women kept in the camp. The Australian understands the allegations are the subject of a joint investigation between the Sri Lankan government and an aid organisation. “It’s been brought to the attention of senior government officials but no one seems to be doing anything about it,” said an aid worker, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisal.

Missionaries providing lessons for Christmas Island detainees
Yuko Narushima; 2/7/09
Evangelical missionaries whose stated aim is to bring “non-Western” people to Christianity through such activities as English lessons are teaching asylum seekers at Christmas Island. The group, Youth With A Mission, is one of the few volunteer organisations given access to the hundreds of detainees on the island. The missionaries have been briefed to avoid giving religious instruction, but their presence has raised concerns that private detention centre operators were outsourcing services to volunteers to save money. The issue is among a number to be investigated by the Human Rights Commission during its next inspection. This week the company Serco signed a $370 million contract with the Government to take over the running of detention centres from G4S Australia, the company that invited Youth With A Mission to Christmas Island in December. A four-month handover period began yesterday.