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Jakarta Post

Time to rethink Australian policies

  • Melanie Morrison

Sydney, Australia   /   Sat, May 5 2012   /  12:09 pm

Punitive policies, crafted by Australia’s politicians in a knee-jerk reaction to the hysteria surrounding people smuggling, have resulted in the jailing of hundreds of Indonesian fishermen.

Their crime of bringing asylum seekers to Australia has seen them labeled the vilest form of human life who should “rot in hell”. The reality is that the vast majority are deckhands on these boats. These men are from some of the poorest parts of Indonesia and are economically far worse off than the people they are transporting. When recruited as crew most have no idea where they are going, who they are transporting or any knowledge of the severity of Australian law that awaits them.

Late last year tougher sentencing laws were pushed through Australia’s Parliament in an effort to bolster the government’s hard-line stance on border protection. “People smugglers” are now sub...