News/Australia: MIGRATION REFUGEES AUSTRALIA CRIME ORGANISED SMUGGLING DRUGS SEX PROSTITUTION RESEARCH SA

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Subject: News/Australia: MIGRATION REFUGEES AUSTRALIA CRIME ORGANISED SMUGGLING DRUGS SEX PROSTITUTION RESEARCH SA
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Fri Nov 19 1999 - 07:49:17 EST


11-17-99 AUSTRALIA: BOAT PEOPLE FORCED INTO CRIME - EXPERT.
By BEN MARTIN.
MIGRATION REFUGEES AUSTRALIA CRIME ORGANISED SMUGGLING DRUGS SEX
PROSTITUTION RESEARCH SA WA

ORGANISED crime syndicates which smuggle boat people into Australia are
involved in drug trafficking and are forcing some new arrivals into
prostitution and drug peddling, according to an Adelaide academic. Andreas
Schloenhardt, who is researching people-smuggling at the University of
Adelaide's law school, said boat people were forced into the sex and drug
trades to repay debts of up to $50,000 to people-smuggling rackets. It was
ironic that some illegal immigrants were promised a bountiful life in
Australia, but ended up as small-time players in the dark underworld of
organised crime.
"I am not saying there are drugs on the boats that are coming in on the WA
and Northern Territory coasts, but I think the same people are involved in
drug trafficking," Mr Schloenhardt said. He said most anecdotal evidence
placed the cost of being smuggled to Australia at between $30,000 and
$50,000. The other people being exploited in the well-organised rackets
were the poverty-stricken Indonesian fishermen who taxied boat people to
Australia.
"They are sometimes paid only $500 for the journey," he said. Despite that
being a fraction of what the smuggling bosses were paid, it was more than a
month's wages for some fishermen whose traditional fishing grounds had been
depleted. Mr Schloenhardt said people-smuggling rackets were so lucrative
and organised that some smugglers had catalogues displaying destinations,
transport methods and prices. Potential illegal immigrants could choose
between flying into Australia, Canada or the United States or take the
cheaper option of sailing to their adopted homes. People-smugglers also
operated a well-organised counterfeiting and passport-swapping scheme.
People-smugglers organised meetings in big Asian international airport
waiting lounges where illegal immigrants took on new identities with the
exchange of a passport. Mr Schloenhardt said there was no easy solution to
the boat people problem, but he questioned the legality of proposed
Australian laws allowing coastal patrols to board boats in international
waters and warn them off entering Australia.
(c) 1999, West Australian Newspapers Limited.
WEST AUSTRALIAN 17/11/1999

Melanie Orhant

morhant@igc.org
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