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Unauthorised boat arrivals arrive on Christmas Island.

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Senator Chris Evans Minister for Immigration and Citizenship

Unauthorised boat arrivals arrive on Christmas Island

Thursday 2 October 2008

Fourteen people intercepted on a boat near the Ashmore Islands earlier this week arrived on Christmas Island today.

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, said the 12 passengers (11 males and one female) and two crew members were transferred from an Australian Customs vessel and have been taken into immigration detention.

‘They are unauthorised arrivals and are subject to mandatory detention in line with the Rudd Government’s immigration detention policy,’ Senator Evans said.

‘All members of the group appeared to be in good health on arrival to Christmas Island.’

They will be held in the secure, supervised Phosphate Hill detention facility while they undergo health, security, identity and other checks to establish their identity and reasons for travelling to Australia. This may take a number of weeks.

Three of the overall group - two male passengers and a male crew member - claim to be juveniles, aged 16 or 17. In line with the Rudd Government’s detention policy, they will be accommodated in supervised arrangements and not in a detention centre.

It has yet to be determined whether any of the group are asylum seekers.

‘The interception of this group of unauthorised arrivals clearly demonstrates the Rudd Government’s border security arrangements are working,’ Senator Evans said.

‘We have maintained extensive patrolling of our borders by Defence and Customs which is why this vessel was intercepted.

‘The excision arrangements and processing of unauthorised arrivals at Christmas Island shows that Australia maintains a strong anti-people smuggling stance.’

Senator Evans said the continuing threat of people smuggling is a direct result of significant long-term pressures driving the international movement of displaced people from the Middle East and Asia caused by conflict and natural disasters.

‘The government has renewed efforts to work closely with regional countries including Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand to prevent and deter people from attempting dangerous sea journeys to Australia,’ Senator Evans said.

In addition, the Australian Government has funded a $10 million border movement alert system in Indonesia to enable more reliable detection of people of concern and assist in preventing people smuggling and irregular migration.