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Tougher people smuggling offences.

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Media Release


Minister for Justice and Customs Senator for Western Australia

26 August 2002


Australia has fulfilled a commitment to its regional neighbours by taking the lead on moves to improve people smuggling offences, Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison announced today.

Senator Ellison said the Federal Government would build upon the success of its strategies to protect Australia’s borders by introducing legislation to create new people smuggling offences in the Criminal Code Act 1995. The new offences will carry a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.

"People-smuggling is a major global issue and Australia has become a major target with an increasing number of people being smuggled here, often transiting through other countries," Senator Ellison said.

"The new offences will provide an enhanced ability to deal with the issue of people-smuggling and the involvement of any Australian residents and citizens who organise such activity.

"They will also illustrate the seriousness of Australia’s approach to people-smuggling and will hopefully encourage other regional countries to adopt similar offences."

Senator Ellison said the proposed law would criminalise:

people-smuggling from Australia to another country. ● people smuggling from other countries to a third country via Australia. ● the smuggling of people between two countries even where there was no transit of the smuggled people through Australia, where the offender was an Australian citizen or resident. ●

Australia’s new measures will include offences where travel or identity documents are forged or altered for intended use in people-smuggling.

There will be a separate set of offences where people smuggling is accompanied by aggravating circumstances. For example, where it involves prostitution or forced labour; conduct which is cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment; or endangering the life or safety of a smuggled person the maximum penalty will be 20 years imprisonment.

The legislation will fulfil a commitment to criminalise people smuggling made by participants in the Regional Ministerial Conference on People Smuggling in Bali in February. A meeting to address progress toward achieving the goals set in Bali is due to be held in October.

"We can be very proud that Australia is leading by example in combating people smuggling," Senator Ellison said.

Media inquiries: Mairi Barton. Ph 02/6277 7260 or 0439 300 335