Indonesia To Outlaw People-Smuggling

Indonesia to outlaw people smuggling

December 9, 2009

Indonesia says it will finally move to outlaw people smuggling next year.

Indonesian officials have told Australian Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor that the long-awaited but much-delayed legislation will be introduced into Indonesia's parliament in 2010.

Indonesia currently has no laws against people smuggling, meaning offenders are generally charged with minor immigration offences that carry relatively light penalties.

But under the proposed new laws, people smugglers could face between five and ten years' prison.

“They made clear that they understood the importance of the issue, they understood that it's a challenge for us all,” O'Connor told reporters in Jakarta.

The new laws would also make it easier for Indonesia to extradite suspects to Australia to face prosecution, where people smugglers can face up to 20 years' jail.

Indonesia is catching increasing numbers of people smuggling suspects with the help of new Australia-trained and funded specialist strike teams.

Australian Federal Police Commissioner Tony Negus said the strike teams, first announced in June, had now been operating for three months in 12 locations.

“They have been very effective, and we have seen already an increase in the number of arrests of people smugglers and those involved in the people smuggling game,” Negus said.

“(And) the intelligence picture is growing clearer and clearer about who the main organisers are, who are their subsidiary facilitators, those sorts of things.”

Indonesia has several people on Australia's people smuggler “hit list” currently in custody, but Negus declined to say how many Australia would seek to have extradited.