Aug 3, 2010

People smuggling: how flawed policy creates criminal activity

The best way to stop the boats is to give people an alternative, writes Pamela Curr, campaign co-ordinator at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.

The corruption and bribery chains operating in the Indonesian people smuggling trade as shown in the ABC’s Four Corners last night have their roots in Australian government policy.  Four Corners detailed the money changing hands in bribes to release people from Indonesian prisons and then to aid their escape by boat. What  this program did not show was the way in which flawed policy in one country creates criminal activity in another.

This trade developed after the Howard government set up Indonesia as a de facto refugee processing centre by funding  the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) to warehouse refugees there. The present situation presents a timely warning for any Pacific nation being targeted to accept Australian funding in exchange for providing another yet another off-shore processing centre.

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5 thoughts on “People smuggling: how flawed policy creates criminal activity

  1. Jenny Haines

    Thank goodness for Pamela Curr, telling it like it is, without the spin of the election campaigns. How extraordinary that people who are legally exercising their rights to seek asylum in a second and third country are treated like this!! Fear politics rules! Rationality, unfortunately comes last

  2. Jack Smit

    I thought the ABC Four Corners show was disgusting and ethically highly questionable. The report did not clarify what the contract with the reporter’s “patsy” – the Iraqi refugee – entailed, whether exchange of money between him and the ABC took place, nor did it tell the viewers how the ABC would ensure his physical safety in Indonesia after the show would go to air in Australia: he clearly is now in danger as someone who has had a major role in “outing” criminal complicity of rather high-ranking officers in Indonesia’s Immigrasie Department.

    The scene where he “escaped” a government (police?) building in Jakarta using Muslim prayer time was ridiculous to the extreme: there was no escape at all, he simply walked out of the building and jumped in a taxi. He had just told on camera that his camera and film footage on disk had been confiscated while in this building, yet we keep seeing footage of him leaving (escaping, remember) the building, footage clearly made by his own micro-camera.

    Most of all, the ABC failed its Australian viewers by failing to make the link, and building the argument for it, that the smuggling trade exists because Australia ignores the asylum seekers in Indonesia. A few weeks ago, John Elliot, who is not exactly the most eloquent of Australia’s high-profile frontmen, sat next to Immigration Minister Chris Evans on the ABC Q&A show. He turned to Evans and said something like this: “I hear there are some 3,000 people in Indonesia trying to get here. Why don’t you go over and get them, Chris Evans, and stop the boats?”

    I am really disappointed that with the enormous resources poured into this episode by Four Corners, no blazing hot blowtorch was applied to Australia’s Immigration Department and on Immigration Minister Chris Evans and on the Opposition spokesman for Immigration Scott Morrison – and his offsider in this portfolio, former Immigration Minister Phil Ruddock.

    The effect of this very limiting ABC episode is that we now all can shake our heads about so many corrupt officers in Indonesia – as if we did not know this already – and shake our heads even more about how evil people smugglers are – as if we did not know this already.

    Shake your heads about this evil a bit more, y’all, then go and look at each other knowingly and nod your head, before you go and vote for the party that’s toughest of all on these evil smugglers. Thank you auntie, for doing the bidding of the mainstream. There was a time when Four Corners was engaged in cutting edge critique, but that seems to have changed.

  3. David

    I am with you Jack..I found the programme disgraceful and a waste of a perfect chance to show just how the Liberals policy under Howard has caused so much suffering. The ABC seem to find plenty of air time to give to that appalling Scott Morrison when it suits their political bent.

    Excellent article Pamela, thanks for it.

  4. fred

    Silly me , I thought the REAL story was that about persecuted people seeking a safe country, which Indonesia is not, rather than the foreign businessmen and government officials who exploit human misery and desperation and the occasional do gooder who helps an asylum seeker to a safe haven!

    I dread the heightened misuse the politicians will make of this latest but not very new information about endemic corruption in Indonesia. It won’t enhance trust or bring our two nations closer together. It will ramp up the asylum seeker bashing and no politician will recall our obligations under the UN Convention.

    Now that the stuff up is clarified, will the Government of Australia stop fuelling the corruption and human rights abuses -including children in 24 hour lock up – and resettle as a matter of priority, the UNHCR confirmed refugees? support the processing rather than susbsistence living and deportation? Even seven thousand more refugees willing to work and keen to educate their kids at this time of regional crisis, will disappear in the great number of immigrants needed to fill labour shortages in a growing economy.

    Thank you Pamela for your vigilence and commitment to honesty in reporting and to justice and decency in our society.

  5. Lorna

    The best way to stop the boats is to give people an alternative – I agree, Joolia should withdraw Ostralia from being a signatory to the UNHCR , alternative removed, boat people crisis over. Simple.

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