By: Luis Gay
Claims have surfaced that Australian officials have been paying human smugglers for years as an approach to deal with migrants. Last month, reports accused Australian police of paying £19,000 to smugglers to turn their boat of 65 migrants back to Indonesia. The passengers on board, which also included women and children, were from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Burma. General Endang Sunjaya, an Indonesian police chief who investigated this incident, said that six crew members swore under oath that they received £3,000 from an Australian official who was not in uniform. Several asylum seekers on the boat claimed that they witnessed the transactions as well. The Indonesian government have deemed this action as state bribery and officials could be charged with human trafficking.
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Australia’s prime minister Tony Abbott refused to deny the allegations, however Fairfax Media (a well known media company in Australia) cited numerous sources stating Australian police paid smugglers to dissuade them from launching boats has been occurring since the Rudd government in 2010. Opposition Labor Party leader Bill Shorten said failing to deny reports provides cash incentive for these dangerous voyages to take place.
Abbott was elected in 2013, promising to "stop the boat", and adopted some of the world’s strictest measures to asylum seekers, including detaining arrivals to offshore detention centers. Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, regarded Abbott's migrant stance as setting a poor example for other nations in the region. He is bewildered by the hostility and contempt toward migrants as Australians themselves descended from migrants.
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Luis Gay is a sophomore attending the University of San Francisco, pursuing a Biology degree and Biochemistry Minor. He is a Social Media Assistant at Cancer InCytes Magazine.
Pearlman, Jonathan. 16Jun2015. “Australian spies have paid off people smugglers for years in 'state bribery'’. The Telegraph. [Accessed 20 Jun 2015]
Siegel, Matt. 16Jun2015.Australian police asked to examine '€26k bribe' to human-traffickers”. Independent.ie. [Accessed 20 Jun 2015]
This photo can be found in an article by Claire Phipps in The Guardian.
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