Indonesia to Aid Australia Tackle People Smugglers
Faced with pressure from Australia, Indonesia has decided to boost naval deployment along with latest maritime patrol aircraft to monitor people smuggling activity in its southern coastal areas. The decision of Indonesian government comes weeks after the Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s visit to the country. It was Prime Minister Abbott’s first international trip after assuming office and revealed the extent of seriousness with which the Australian government took the issue of asylum-seekers and people smugglers.
The issue of people smuggling was high on the agenda at the meeting between both countries, report in The Jakarta Post said.
The Post quoted Indonesia’s Defence Minister Yusgiantoro Purnomo saying that several of the asylum-seekers boats directly travel through Indonesian waters on their way to Australian territory of Christmas Island. Several of them do not necessarily stop along the Indonesian coast, he said.
"We will track their routes to make sure that they haven't sailed from any of the islands in Indonesia and [we will] block their movements," Mr Purnomo said.
During his visit to Indonesia, Prime Minister Abbott had reiterated his government's get-tough policy against asylum-seekers and people-smuggling.
The finer details of the strategy to jointly tackle the people smuggling trade, will be worked out between Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison and his Indonesian counterpart Djoko Suyanto.
The Australian Prime Minister, meanwhile, assured Indonesia of his country’s partnership.
"The government of Australia takes a very dim view ... of anyone seeking to use our country as a platform for grandstanding against Indonesia. We will do everything that we possibly can to discourage this and prevent this," Mr Abbott said.
Indonesia has, all along, denied Australia’s charges that its territory is used by people smugglers. The country even refused to accept asylum-seekers, turned back by Australia Navy.
Indonesia has also expressed its inability to detain any asylum seekers stating that its detention centres are overcrowded.
Indonesia's immigration officials, meanwhile, are conducting public awareness campaigns across the country, encouraging local people to report any information of suspected undocumented people-smuggling activities.
Australia came under a lot of international criticism recently, when a tragedy-struck boat carrying Indonesian asylum seekers left over 50 people, including 30 children, dead or missing. Rights activists accused Australian coast guard saying, it took them over 24 hours to respond to the tragedy - a charge which Australia refuted.
Having won the September elections on a platform of taking strong action against asylum seekers, Australia’s Liberal National Coalition under Prime Minister Abbott introduced “Operation Sovereign Borders” involving 12 agencies, under the unified command of a single three-star military commander for border protection.
Australia is now seeking to
work with its Asian neighbours, including Indonesia, Malaysia and
Thailand to tackle the people-smuggling trade.
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