Friday March 6, 2009 6:30am WST
For Immediate Release
"Australia's people smuggling laws are an abysmal manipulative interpretation and implementation of the United Nations People Smuggling Convention, a left-over from a government that sought to vilify asylum seekers and refugees, and they urgently need changing if not thrown out, because once again these 'jail-em laws' have condemned, imprisoned and destroyed an entirely innocent and broke Indonesian fisherman", WA Human Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.
"The United Nations International People Smuggling Convention aims at preventing illegal labor, illegal child labor and forced prostitution to be moved illegally to other countries. It was not designed to stop the likes of the Priest who helped the Von Trapp family fleeing Nazis across the Alps, or to stop the likes of the man selling a donkey to Mary and Joseph so they could flee to Egypt."
"If it is not illegal to sail to Australia to seek asylum, and if it's true that many asylum seekers are entirely unable to use established forms of international transport, then it is also true that those who assist asylum claimants in their voyage to Australia are not people smugglers but "People Movers", merely providing a transport service, no matter how inferior that service may be," spokesman Jack H Smit said.
"The Rudd government needs to start admitting that if they do not accept that coming to Australia by boat is something that's illegal - it isn't, but it is the International Right of anyone needing to flee their country in fear of persecution - then those who assist with that transport should not be penalised."
"If Kevin Rudd is too chicken to change these manipulative laws, then the United Nations needs to step into the breach and start making an international register of people movers so they can sail under a UNHCR Flag with seaworthy boats and assist the dangerous voyage to Convention countries."
"Every time I hear Chris Evans or Kevin Rudd mention the term 'people smuggling' or 'people smugglers' I revile, because I know they're manipulating public opinion to silence attacks on their government coming from the xenophobes on the far right or from those who applauded John Howard."
"I don't want to be lied to by Australia's leaders, and I don't want to be manipulated by my leaders, and if the Rudd government can't bring it on to stop manipulating Australians, then Australian journalists need to start asking them the hard questions and condemn them for their manipulative language and clear intent to spin the wool over our population's eyes," Mr Smit concluded.
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]
3 years jail for people smuggler
ABC NEWS ONLINE
Posted Thu Mar 5, 2009 8:35pm AEDT
Updated Thu Mar 5, 2009 8:33pm AEDT
A 35-year-old Indonesian farmer will spend at least three years in a West Australian jail for trying to smuggle a group of asylum seekers into Australia.
Abdul Hamid was the captain of a boat found by the navy near the Ashmore Islands in October. 3 Iranians and 9 Afghanis were on board.
The District Court in Perth was told an inspection of the boat found it to be unseaworthy. There were no lifeboats or safety boats on board and Hamid had no experience on boats.
He was sentenced to six years jail and will have to serve half before he is expected to be deported to Indonesia.