Report sparks action over alleged boat payments

Senate Committee opens inquiry into the allegations in our By Hook or By Crook report. Find out how it happened.

In October 2015 we released a report, By Hook or by Crook: Australia’s abuse of asylum seekers at sea, which revealed damning evidence that Australian officials paid USD $32,000 to the six crew members on board and told them to take the people to Indonesia.

It was also reported that Australian officials subjected these people seeking asylum to various forms of ill treatment, including confiscating their medicines and denying them access to medical assistance.

Thanks to you

Amnesty Activists from across the country took action via social media, wrote letters, contacted their Federal MPs and over 20,000 people took action demanding a Royal Commission.

Thanks to you, the Senate’s Legal and Constitutional Affairs references Committee opened an inquiry into the allegations in our report.

The Senate’s report relies heavily on the evidence provided by Amnesty’s report and relays our calls that a Royal Commission into Operation Sovereign Borders is needed to investigate and report on allegations of payments made to crew and ill-treatment at sea.

Several members of the committee also echoed our concerns that Operation Sovereign Borders continues to be conducted under an unacceptable veil of secrecy. The report recognises that the Australian community is becoming increasingly concerned “about the secrecy and lack of accountability surrounding the government’s conduct…”.

The interim report tabled was recommended for adoption by the 45th Parliament, following the upcoming Federal election.

What next?

This is a positive step towards accountability in Australia’s management of Operation Sovereign Borders.

However, a complete inquiry into this incident cannot be allowed to lapse in the transfer of the 45th Parliament. The next Parliament must continue these investigations and consider mechanisms which can ensure Operation Sovereign Borders operates with greater transparency and accountability.

The upcoming election is an opportunity for us to influence the political debate on people seeking asylum, and to build momentum toward alternative policies which improve refugee protection.