Indonesia & Australia boost people-smuggling fight

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Indonesia & Australia boost people-smuggling fight

Indonesia & Australia boost people-smuggling fight

Monday, January 9, 2012
  • ille
This is how the immigrants risk their lives, often sailing through rough seas.

JAKARTA: Jakarta and Canberra on Monday agreed to boost their fight against people-smuggling, amid concerns that Indonesia's planned visa policies may result in a surge of asylum-seekers to Australia.

 

Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd met his Indonesian counterpart Marty Natalegawa here to discuss joint efforts to combat the growing number of illegal migrants using Indonesia as a springboard to Australia by boat, often in perilous journeys that end in tragedy.

 

"What we have agreed is to now embrace a programme of joint cooperation on the question of document fraud and document identity," Rudd told reporters without elaborating.

 

Asylum seekers are suspected of entering Indonesia or other transit countries with forged travel or identity documents, before trying to head illegally for Australia.

 

Last month, an overloaded vessel, carrying about 250 mostly Iranian and Afghan asylum seekers, sank off Indonesia's eastern Java, killing all but 47 people on board.

 

Indonesia's proposal to relax visa restrictions for some foreign citizens, including major migrant source countries such as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, led to fears in Australia that more asylum-seekers will try to enter.

 

Rudd said Natalegawa had confirmed that new arrangements would be subject to normal review within the Indonesian system and handled by relevant officials and agencies.

 

Natalegawa said while new regulations require visitors to apply for visas in their home countries instead of Indonesia, their applications will still be processed in Jakarta in most instances and subject to proper procedures.

 

"It is not on arrival or visa-free facilitation," Natalegawa told reporters.

 

Besides people smuggling, Rudd also discussed cooperation in trade, the economy and natural disasters management.