Indonesia Agrees To Extradition

Indonesia agrees to extradition

Tom Allard, Bali
The Age
December 11, 2008

(PHOTO: Good for the sole: Kevin Rudd presents Indonesian President Susilo Bambang with a pair of R.M. Williams boots. Photo: Glen McCurtayne)

AN ALLEGED head of a people-smuggling syndicate will be extradited from Indonesia to Australia in a sign of deepening co-operation between the nations.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd revealed the impending extradition of dual Iranian-Iraqi citizen Hadi Ahmadi after meeting Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono yesterday ahead of the Bali Democracy Forum.

Following their talks, the third between the leaders in the past month, it was also announced that Australia will provide a $1.5 billion loan facility to help Indonesia through the current financial turmoil.

However, people smuggling dominated their meeting after a spike in recent months.

Since September, six boats carrying asylum seekers have headed for Australia while a further 15 boatloads have been intercepted before leaving Indonesia.

Hadi Ahmadi, who was arrested by Indonesian authorities in June, is allegedly responsible for sending 10 boats containing 900 illegal immigrants by sea to Australia between 1999 and 2001.

A senior Australian Government official said Ahmadi was expected to arrive in Australia by the end of the year.

It will be the first extradition of an alleged people smuggler from Indonesia to Australia.

The extradition agreement is a significant breakthrough as Indonesia does not have people-smuggling laws . It prosecutes those who traffic illegal immigrants for immigration violation and fraud, crimes that carry relatively minor penalties.

Under Australian law, people smugglers can face up to 20 years' jail.

Indonesia said yesterday it would take steps to introduce people-smuggling laws, with President Yudhoyono announcing that its parliament would ratify UN protocols against the trafficking of immigrants and other people.

The two countries will also increase co-operation to combat people smuggling. Australia is keen to improve Indonesia's immigration alert system so known perpetrators can be more readily identified and detained.

Australia's $1.5 billion stand-by loan to Indonesia will be part of a credit facility that will also see contributions from the World Bank, Japan, the European Union and the Asian Development Bank.

In other announcements, Mr Rudd said the two nations would hold talks in February to broaden their relationship. Australia will also spend $3 million helping Indonesia's new Institute for Peace and Democracy, which aims to foster democratic principles across Asia.

Yesterday's conference on democracy was attended by representatives of more than 30 countries, including many with authoritarian regimes.

President Yudhoyono said the “inclusive” forum was not about “preaching”, but encouraging debate.

The Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, gave the keynote address to the Forum. He talked of a “social compact” between governments and their people but did not mention democracy.