Thursday September 9, 2010 8:30am WST
For Immediate Release
"The decision by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions to send a number of Indonesian boat crew home without prosecuting them (see report below) - a decision not related to the usual age factor, where they were found to be younger than 18 years - represents the first opening we desperately need to see if we are to apply justice in the world's harshest laws for people smugglers," WA Human Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.
"Hundreds of poor, broke and illiterate Indonesian young fishermen languish in our jails - and almost a hundred of them are languishing in these jails without even knowing whether or not, or when, they will see a start to any prosecutions, not having been charged after almost, or more than, a full year of their apprehensions," spokesman Jack H Smit said.
"Australia not only is a ghastly country in relation to people smugglers, where we have the world's first and the world's harshest smuggling laws which have been formulated on a foundation of bragging by the major political parties about being tough on border protection, but we show the same ghastliness in that we allow the AFP to jail hundreds of people without charging them. Australia's brazen arrogance and stupidity around international common law principles and about arbitrary imprisonment without charges is there for the whole world to see, and most visible to Indonesia, our neighbours, whose citizens we do this to."
"Australia's infantile attitude to those who sail, often for little as 50 to 100 to 400 dollars, refugees to the safety of our territories, bragging about border protection in response, is one of our nastiest sides of our society and body politic, and the smuggling laws are entirely inspired by nothing more than successive Prime Ministers, from John Howard to Kevin Rudd to Julia Gillard doing their obligatory bullying lines about "people smugglers being evil".
"We now need to see the democratic openness and accountability from the Commonwealth DPP, and for his office to simply tell the Australian people about his decision and explain this decision, and we now need to see some courageous politicians to start speaking up about these ghastly laws, which need to become subject to a full parliamentary inquiry and review."
"The truth is, that we have jailed hundreds of young, broke and unemployed Indonesian fishermen, yet we have been incapable of arresting the real smugglers. For now, our smuggling laws are a disgrace and a blight on our nation's decency."
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]