Australian officials might have committed transnational crimes

Canberra, Oct 29 (IANS) Australian officials who paid human trafickers to return to Indonesia have committed a transnational crime and put lives at risk, according to allegations by Amnesty International.

The organisation has released a report in which it details evidence of Australian Navy and Border Force officials intercepting a people-smuggling boat and paying the crew to turn around, ABC reported on Thursday.

It recommends a royal commission into the alleged payments, as well as an investigation into a second incident where also payments were alleged to have been made.

A spokesman for Immigration Minister Peter Dutton described the Amnesty report as “a slur on the men and women of the Australian Border Force (ABF) and Australian Defence Force (ADF)”.

The report said the first case occurred in May 2015, when a boat believed to be heading to New Zealand was intercepted, carrying more than 60 people and six crew. The boat was allegedly intercepted twice, before being taken to Greenhill Island near Darwin.

The second alleged incident happened in late July, and Amnesty said it interviewed 15 people from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Myanmar. That boat was allegedly pushed back to Rote island in Indonesia.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has condemned the report, saying “Australian officials are acting in accordance with Australian domestic law and in accordance with Australia’s international obligations”.

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