Tags: amnesty | international | australia | smugglers

Amnesty International: Australia Smugglers Help Divert Refugees

Image: Amnesty International: Australia Smugglers Help Divert Refugees
A sign protests Australia's policy holding asylum seekers in offshore detention camps in poor Pacific island nations. (REUTERS/David Gray)

By    |   Friday, 30 Oct 2015 11:01 AM

Amnesty International has accused Australian officials of paying off human smugglers to turn away boats carrying refugees seeking asylum and now says it has evidence of the charges.

Australia, according to Al Jazeera, has adopted a policy of stopping asylum seekers coming from Indonesia and detaining people searching for asylum in South Pacific island nations like Papua New Guinea and Nauru.

Amnesty International took out advertisements in two Australian newspapers on Thursday calling for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to launch a commission into payments to human smugglers.

"Witness testimonies backed by video footage reveal how the intervention by Australian officials endangered the lives of the people seeking asylum by transferring them to different boats that did not have enough fuel, and how the incident fits into a wider pattern of abusive so-called 'turnbacks' or 'pushbacks' of boats," said an Amnesty International report.

The report said that in May and July Australian officials paid smugglers as much as $32,000 to turn away boats.

"Australia has, for months, denied that it paid for people smuggling, but our report provides detailed evidence pointing to a very different set of events," said Anna Shea, refugee researcher at Amnesty International.

"All of the available evidence points to Australian officials having committed a transnational crime by, in effect, directing a people-smuggling operation, paying a boat crew and then instructing them on exactly what to do and where to land in Indonesia. People-smuggling is a crime usually associated with private individuals, not governments – but here we have strong evidence that Australian officials are not just involved, but directing operations."

Australia's immigration minister Peter Dutton accused Amnesty International of trying to undermine government policy, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

"I think the approach of some, including Amnesty in their report yesterday, goes beyond the pale," Dutton told ABC.

"People are opposed to (boat turnbacks), including Amnesty, and I respect that but I think this has just been an opportunity to launch an ideological attack and I think that's why it needs to be addressed because the government is not going to be bullied into changing our position." 


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Amnesty International has accused Australian officials of paying off human smugglers to turn away boats carrying refugees seeking asylum and now says it has evidence of the charges.
amnesty, international, australia, smugglers
378
2015-01-30
Friday, 30 Oct 2015 11:01 AM
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