Australian Greens Senators
On the 17th of January the Minister for Immigration and
Border Protection announced that Australian Navy and Customs vessels had
breached Indonesian territorial waters whilst undertaking activities as part of
Operation Sovereign Border (OSB).
The Australian Greens are extremely concerned about the
government’s response to this incident, in particular the Minister’s insistence
on attributing the failure of the policy to Australian Navy and Customs
Rather than placing the blame on individual Customs and Navy
personnel the Australian Government must take responsibility for the dangers
and complexities of the policy that has inevitably lead to the breaches.
It is evident that the policy is untenable and that there is
a clear conflict between the directives provided by the Australia government
that activities are only to be conducted;
- when deemed safe to do so by the Commanding Officer, and
outside of the 12 nautical miles from Indonesia’s archipelagic
It is clear that the Commanders of these vessels are unable
to ensure the safety of both their crew and asylum seekers on board whilst
remaining 12 nautical miles from the Indonesian archipelagic baseline.
This policy is also continuing to compromise relations with
Indonesia, one of Australia’s most important bi-lateral relationships.
The committee heard from international law experts who
indicated that the breaches violated international law, in particular the
United Nations International Law of the Sea, and both international refugee law
and international human rights law.
Recommendation 1: That the government end its current
policy of turning back boats to avoid further maritime breaches and ensure the
safety of Australia’s Customs and Navy personnel and asylum seekers are not
Reccomendation2: That Australia act at all times within
Senator Sarah Hanson-Young Senator
Australian Greens Senator for SA Australian
Greens Senator for TAS
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