Jacinda Ardern responds to Australia's people smuggling allegations
Jacinda Ardern responds to Australia's people smuggling allegations
The rusty tanker with name Etra painted in its side was crammed with illegal migrants
08 May, 2018, 01:36
"This syndicate has been operating since mid-2017 and has worldwide connections across Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and Malaysia".
Home Affairs minister Peter Dutton said Malaysia had done "great work" intercepting the vessel.
"On May 1st, at approximately 2.02 am, Royal Malaysian Police in co-operation with Malaysian Maritime Enforcement and government legal officers have conducted "Op Kenal Alpha 2/2018" and have successfully brought down a people smuggling operation involving Sri Lankan citizens using maritime passage in the area of Tanjung Gemuk waters, Sedili, Kota Tinggi, Johor", Harun said in a statement. Dutton says people smugglers are now marketing New Zealand as a backdoor into Australia.
It was carrying 131 Sri Lankans believed to be heading for Australia or New Zealand.
'Regardless of New Zealand's policy and regardless of Australia's policy, unscrupulous people with no integrity will promote either destination for their financial benefit without necessarily those victims involved having any sense of reality in either country.
Yesterday, New Zealand's Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said New Zealand was strongly committed to regional efforts to combat people-smuggling.
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The size of the intercepted vessel indicated it had the capacity to head for New Zealand.
The boats used to arrive on Australian shores at a rate of more than one a day, but no boat smuggling people has arrived in Australia in nearly four years. Five more Malaysians were arrested for their suspected involvement in the smuggling syndicate.
"It is being marketed in the same way as Australia".
Police also raided a fishing boat used to transport the migrants to the vessel and detained three Indonesians and four Malaysians on board, Mr Dutton said.
The police chief said 127 of the 131 migrants will be charged with entering Malaysia illegally.
'And we know we've got at least 14,000 people just in Indonesia ready to get on boats tomorrow, and we've got huge issues in Shri Lanka, in Vietnam, obviously Malaysia as well.
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