Australia Could Be Accused Of People Smuggling Following Alleged Payments

Earlier this week, news emerged that raised serious questions about the Government’s current immigration and asylum seeker policy, as reports alleged the Australian Government paid up to $30,000 to people smugglers – as an incentive to turn back their boats.
A Police chief on Rote Island in Indonesia made the claim – one that, if proved to be true, would be unprecedented in Australia’s history, and one which would smack to the high heavens of hypocrisy on the government’s part. 
Today, an international law expert, Professor Don Rothwell of ANU, flagged concern over the allegations, claiming that an accusation of Australia partaking in the transaction of people smuggling—by paying off the smugglers—could be possible, citing the 2000 protocol on the issue. 
The protocol requires states to engage in cooperative activities to disrupt people smuggling,” Professor Rothwell told the ABC. Rothwell claimed that paying people smugglers could be seen as a violation of the protocol. “This reported activity is one that has seen Australia seek to pay monies to persons who are allegedly people smugglers to return those asylum seekers at sea back to Indonesia. That is not really consistent in any way with regional cooperation, with cooperation with other state parties.”

On Friday, Prime Minister Tony Abbott refused to confirm or deny the allegations.

“What we do is stop the boats by hook or by crook, because that’s what we’ve got to do and that’s what we’ve successfully done. By hook or by crook we are going to stop the trade.”

Professor Rothwell claimed the Indonesian Government were seriously investigating this week’s allegations, saying “we’ll no doubt hear from Indonesia in the future about this.”

Australia being accused for acting complicit to people smuggling? If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
Via ABC.

Lead image by Scott Fisher via Getty.