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AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: AUSTRALIA SMUGGLES PEOPLE

More evidence has come to light regarding an incident in May when 65 asylum seekers and the crew of a boat on its way from Indonesia to New Zealand were intercepted in either Indonesian or international waters by Australian authorities and escorted into Australian waters. Fifty were transferred under false pretences and detained in cells on an Australian Border Force vessel for almost a week. Crew and asylum seekers were forced onto two smaller boats less well-equipped than their original vessel and escorted to international waters.

Amnesty International said that the crew was given maps by the officials showing them where to land in Indonesia. They were provided little fuel, and subsequently one of the boats ran out of fuel at sea. "The terrified passengers were forced to do a dangerous mid-sea transfer onto the remaining boat and were eventually rescued by Indonesian locals after hitting a reef."

In August, Amnesty interviewed the six crew members in Indonesia where they remain in police custody. The crew asserts that Australian officials gave them a total of US$32,000 in $100 notes to head back to Indonesia. This account was backed up by one of the passengers, and Indonesian officials have also confirmed that this was the amount seized from the crew on arrival.

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Nexus Magazine
Dec 2015 - Jan 2016
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