01 October 2008

Australian gov't intercepts people smugglers

The Australian government reassured its citizens of its commitment to border security and its strong stance against people smuggling yesterday after it intercepted an unauthorised vessel off Ashmore.

A Royal Australian Navy patrol boat intercepted a vessel carrying 14 people near Ashmore Islands, 320 kilometres off Australia’s north-west coast yesterday.

The government have said the boat contained two crewman and 12 passengers, who comprised eleven men and one female (nationalities yet to be confirmed).  None of the passengers on board the vessel were holders of Australian visas, and their reasons for travel are still unconfirmed.

All crew and passengers have been taken to Christmas Island, where they will be detained and processed according to Australian immigration law.

"The interception of this group of unauthorised arrivals clearly demonstrates the Rudd Government’s border security arrangements are working. We congratulate all agencies involved in this apprehension," Senator Chris Evans, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, said.

"Attempting to breach Australia’s borders and the integrity of its immigration system is a serious matter and the government will continue to take robust measures to protect Australia's borders," Senator Evans added.  "People smuggling is an insidious trade where criminals exploit vulnerable people whose lives may be put at risk."

Senator Evans went to South-East Asia in August to discuss people-smuggling issues.  The eight-day forum focused on cooperation between Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia in an effort to harness the people-smuggling trade and tighten regional border security.

The Senator used the forum to discuss migration management so that more foreigners can lawfully enter Australia on Australian visas, rather than risking their lives or freedom by being smuggled into the country. 

"Indonesia, along with Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore are key partners for Australia and our Governments are committed to close, practical working relationships," Senator Evans said. 

"We are doing a lot together to improve border security, including thorough forensic document examination programs and initiatives to detect people who seek to travel on fake or altered passports.

"We are also exploring ways to better share information between countries in the region on immigration issues and trends which will help prevent people-smuggling, human trafficking and other forms of trans-national crime."

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people apply for an Australia visa.

Article by Jessica Bird, Australian Visa Bureau.

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