Australia has reportedly paid people smugglers to sail back a boat carrying asylum seekers to Indonesia.
According to reports on Friday, Australia border officials gave USD 30,000 to smugglers to return 65 refugees from Burma, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to Indonesia, an act which is tantamount to human trafficking under international law.
“I saw the money, the $5,000 was in $100 banknotes,” said Hidaya, an Indonesian police chief, adding that an Australian delivered the sum in black plastic bags to each of the six smugglers.
Nazmul Hassan, a Bangladeshi asylum seeker, who was on board the vessel, also confirmed the incident,
The captain of the boat announced that “we have to go back” after he received the money, Hassan pointed out.
Meanwhile, the Australian prime minister refused to deny the reports of funding human traffickers, admitting that the government in Canberra has employed “a whole range of measures to stop the boats because that’s what the Australian people elected us to do.”
“What we do is stop the boats by hook or by crook, because that’s what we’ve got to do and that’s what we’ve successfully done,” stated Tony Abbott, adding, “I just don’t want to go into details.”
The premier also hailed Australia’s border protection agencies for being “incredibly creative in coming up with a whole range of strategies to break this evil trade.”