Asylum-seekers' free coastguard ride

Featured - July 12th, 2012

The Australian navy are receiving an increasing number of false distress calls with the influx of asylum-seekers arriving by boat, Japan Today reports.

According to opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison, the trend is becoming ‘disturbing’. He said “Australian naval and customs vessels are now effectively being co-opted by people-smugglers to deliver their passengers for them to Christmas Island”. Australian media reported that people-smugglers taught asylum-seekers to call Australian rescue crews hours after leaving Indonesia. A source close to the smuggling trade told local media, “The people-smugglers tell them, ‘Just call the Australians and they will come and get you’.”

The incident that Mr. Morrison described involved two asylum-seeker boats that sought the navy’s help. Both boats were in Indonesian waters and showed no obvious signs of need. The navy took the passengers on board. Another vessel, carrying almost 180 passengers, used the same tactic.

With the increasing number of  Indonesians fleeing their homes and showing up along the Australian coastline, Canberra plans to transfer them to Malaysia for processing. However, the legislation was not passed because of opposition in the Australian parliament, AFP reports.