Indonesia is a transit country for asylum seekers whose destination is Australia, but unlike Australia, Indonesia has not ratified the UN Refugee Convention. Meanwhile the UNHCR has an office in Jakarta to process the asylum seeker applications; but the slow process of resettlement of the refugees in Indonesia has led them to find another way to get to Australia. The seamen who bring the refugees from Indonesia are desperately poor; as a result they are willing to work for the people smugglers. In 2009 leaking oil in Timor had a severe social and economic impact on the fishing communities in West Timor from which most of these seamen come.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has described smuggling as an ”evil trade” perpetrated by people ”who seek to profit from human misery”. Previously her predecessor, Kevin Rudd described people smugglers as “the scum of the earth who can rot in hell”

Meanwhile the Australian Human Rights Commission indicated it was considering investigating allegations that as many as 50 Indonesian juveniles arrested by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) for involvement in people-trafficking were being held unlawfully in adult prisons.,[2] the estimated number of Indonesian crew held in Australian jails and detention centres for people smuggling is over 400 people. The AFP uses the X-ray process to determine age, but the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists, the Australian and New Zealand Society for Paediatric Radiology and the Australasian Paediatric Endocrine Group, all condemn the use of X-rays and genital examinations to determine whether a fisherman is a juvenile. Previously Sir Al Aynsley-Green, Britain’s founding Children’s Commissioner, says the federal police’s use of X-rays to assess the ages of Indonesian crew members from asylum-seeker boats is ”unethical, inaccurate, not fit for [the] purpose proposed and potentially unlawful.”

Unlike Somalia, Australia has already ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Mr Rudd has promised all possible help for an Australian youth imprisoned for marijuana possession in Indonesia. It is all the more hypocritical for Canberra to lock up Indonesian youth.


Gerry Georgatos is from Human Rights Alliance (Western Australia) and he has been campaigning on this issue and representing amongst others, jailed fisher people who are still children.

Edwina Lloyd is a solicitor from Blair Criminal Lawyers who represents a young Indonesian boy charged with people smuggling as well as adult males charged with people smuggling.

This forum is being organized by Indonesian Solidarity and supported by Human Rights Alliance (WA), SISC (Sydney Indonesian Studies Circle) and the Indonesian Studies Department at the University of Sydney, the Diplomatic Training Program and Migrant Refugee Rights Program at the UNSW and Refugee Action Coalition.

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Further information please contact Eko Waluyo on 0416809107 or


  1. Gerry Georgatos says:

    The venue for this Wednesday, Quad Latin 2.S225, is at the University of Sydney. Please be there if you can. Gerry.

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