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The media has been rife with reports over the last few days, of the Australian government supposedly bribing boats containing asylum seekers to turn around upon reaching Australian shores.
Around the same time the UN high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, has criticised Australia in front of the Geneva humans rights council. He called Australia’s new asylum seeker policies bewildering and suggested that, as a nation that is highly reliant on and predominately composed of migrants or descendants-of-migrants, Australia is setting a poor standard for other countries in terms of their foreign policy.
Recent claims that the Australian government paid crew members aboard a vessel carrying asylum seekers $US30,000 to return the boat to Indonesia have been denied by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, but Prime Minister Tony Abbott has thrown a spanner in the works by refusing to provide answers.
Abbott has stated that Australia “will do whatever is necessary, within the law, consistent with our standards as decent and humane society to stop the boats”, a statement which many have taken as confirming the allegations.
Should the claims be found to be truthful, the government may find itself held responsible for human trafficking.
Not only this, but Indonesian officials have warned that rumours of monetary exchange may just give more impetus for asylum seekers to make the transnational journey.
Mr Abbott has stated that he is confident that “at all times Australian agencies have acted within the law,” but the shroud of controversy still remains, in light of Indonesia and the UN’s criticism.
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