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Australian Current Affairs

Australia hails “Bali Process” countries criminalisation of people smuggling

Officials at Christmas Island on Tuesday check some of the 353 asylum-seekers who arrived in Australian waters since Saturday

Officials at Christmas Island on Tuesday check some of the 353 asylum-seekers who arrived in Australian waters since Saturday

Foreign Minister Bob Carr has hailed an agreement by 37 Bali Process countries to criminalise people-smuggling and human-trafficking as a “huge advance”.

The Bali Process ministerial meeting yesterday also agreed to link with the Australian-sponsored Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Co-operation to train regional police forces to deal with people-smugglers and traffickers as trans-national criminals.

“As a result we will have less of a lacunae, less of a vacuum, within which perpetrators of the crimes of people-smuggling and human-trafficking can operate,” Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said.

The 37 nations represented in Bali yesterday cover all the main countries of origin, transit and destination in Asia and the Middle East.

After years of urging from Australia, host Indonesia criminalised people-smuggling in 2011.

The Bali announcement came as Canberra disclosed yesterday that two more asylum-seeker boats had been intercepted. One carrying 81 people had been located near the Cocos Islands on Monday night and one carrying 65 had been intercepted on Sunday night northeast of Christmas Island. That brought to 353 the number of irregular arrivals in Australian waters since Saturday. More than 2100 boat passengers landed during March.

Senator Carr said yesterday’s agreement would result in more effective regional law enforcement and border protection.

He and Immigration Minister Brendan O’Connor also came away from the meeting with ammunition against Tony Abbott‘s policy of turning boats back to Indonesia in the form of indirect criticism from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Assistant high commissioner Erika Feller told the Bali meeting the UNHCR endorsed the findings of a regional meeting on “irregular movements by sea” in Jakarta last month. She said the meeting revealed important lessons, including that “unilateral action by individual states doesn’t work”.

“Pushing off boats simply deflects the burden to their neighbours and places already vulnerable people in even greater harm’s way,” she said.

Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison welcomed the Bali conference’s focus on regional deterrence, saying that had always been Coalition policy.

Source: The Australian – Region gets tough on smugglers

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One thought on “Australia hails “Bali Process” countries criminalisation of people smuggling

  1. A very positive development.

    Posted by swabby429 | April 5, 2013, 02:25

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