Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been lauded for defending his country, after drafting a code of behaviour for the hoards of asylum seekers that threatens to deport them for ‘irritating people, disturbing someone or spitting or swearing in public’.
Australia’s tough stance over asylum seekers from Indonesia has soured relations between the two countries in recent months and this document is not likely to improve matters.
The number of illegals from Iran, Afghanistan, Myanmar and elsewhere reaching Australia in Indonesian fishing boats has soared in recent years and Australia has occasionally used its Navy to tow boats back to Indonesian waters.
Now those who manage to make it to Australia’s shores will have to sign a new code of behaviour, currently in draft form, which sets out how they’re expected to behave.
The document, which applies to those arriving by boat – or ‘illegal maritime arrivals’ – was leaked to The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.
It states that they are banned from ‘irritating people’, ‘disturbing people’, ‘damaging property, spitting or swearing in public’ and ‘other actions that other people might find offensive’.
‘Spreading rumours’ at work or ‘excluding someone from a group or place on purpose’ are also banned.
The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre said punishment for code of behaviour infringements could vary.
It said: ‘It could start with just a warning, you may have your Red Cross payments reduced or stopped all together or you may be placed in detention in Australia or offshore on Nauru and Manus Island.’
‘No other industrialised nation criminalises everyday behaviour. The idea that spitting in public or getting a parking fine is enough to get you sent to an off shore detention centre is extraordinary. It is an abuse of power and creates a climate of terror for asylum seekers’, Kon Karapanagiotidis, a spokesman for organisation, told The Telegraph, forgetting that these people came to Australia illegally, while he came from Greece to Australia legally and their stay should only be temporary according to international law on asylum seeking, until the problems in their own nations resolve.
The controversy follows news that an Indonesian court has sentenced a Pakistani man to seven years in jail for attempting to smuggle asylum seekers to Australia on a rickety boat that sank, killing about 90 people.
Javaid Mahmood, 55, was the second person found guilty by the East Jakarta District Court in connection with the overloaded fishing boat that capsized on its way to Christmas Island in June 2012. Another 110 people on the boat were rescued.
A panel of three judges concluded that Mahmood, also known as Billu, organized the voyage and conspired with an international syndicate that smuggled asylum seekers from Indonesia to Australia.
The judges said each asylum seeker paid the people smugglers up to $5,150 to get to Australia.
Last year, the court sentenced an Afghan man, Dawood Amiri, 20, to six years in prison and ordered him to pay $79,000. His interrogation led police to arrest Billu almost a year after the deadly voyage.
Prosecutors, who had requested a 10-year sentence, said the defendant knew that the boat was overloaded but did nothing to stop it from sailing. He was among the survivors and had organized three previous trips to Australia.
The judges also ordered him to pay $66,200 or face an additional six months in prison.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa has criticized an Australia policy of turning back boats with their invaders (asylum seekers) as a “violation of Indonesian sovereignty”.
Australia has apologized for incidents in which its border patrol boats entered Indonesian waters without permission, which had prompted Indonesia to demand that Australia suspend such operations against boats carrying invaders and just welcome them instead.
Indonesia has long been a transit point for people fleeing war-ravaged countries on their way to Australia, but never did anything serious to put an end to it, which kind of makes it an accomplice.
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