Operation Sovereign Border and the Classification of Information relating to Migrant Smuggling to Australia
Since the inception of ‘Operation Sovereign Border’ by the Australian Government in December 2013, the Government has classified most of the information relating to the smuggling of migrants to Australia and keeps details about the arrival of asylum seekers by boat into the country secret. This project explores the background, purpose of this policy, outlines the widespread criticism, and critically examines the implications, concerns and dangers of this policy measure.
Australia’s Asylum-Seeker Policies and its International Reputation
Over the last decade, academics, media commentators, and refugee advocacy and humanitarian organisations within Australia have increasingly voiced their concerns that Australia’s international reputation has been damaged by Australian government asylum-seeker policies. This research project explores the notion of state reputational harm, the relationship between Australia’s actions towards asylum seekers and its international reputation, and Australian government responses to criticisms of its policies from overseas.
Smuggling of migrants into and through Malaysia
Malaysia is an important destination for irregular migrants from a range of Asian countries and a transit point for the smuggling of Middle Eastern and South Asian migrants to Indonesia and Australia. This project examines the levels and patterns of migrant smuggling into and through Malaysia and the government responses (policies and laws) to this issue.
Jurisdiction and extra-territorial application of smuggling of migrants offences in Australia
Smuggling of migrants is, by definition, and offence that crosses international borders. This research project examines the extent to which the smuggling of migrants offence(s) under Australian law apply extraterritorially.
The use of force to prevent unlawful entry
This project critically explores the extent to which current domestic law permits the use of force to prevent that persons enter a country/cross a border unlawfully (i.e. non-citizens without visas or other permits)
SIEV 86 and the Ali Yasmin case
The case of SIEV 86 involves the smuggling of 55 Afghan migrants from Indonesia to Australia. The vessel was intercepted on the 18 December 2009 northwest of Ashmore Reef. The four crew members on board the vessel were charged with migrant smuggling offences, and all four were convicted. One of the crew members appealed the decision on the basis that he was not 18 years old at the time of offending. Although the appeal was dismissed, it was later revealed that the crew member had been 13 when he was arrested. After 2 and a half years in jail, he was released by the Attorney-General on the basis that there was sufficient doubt about his age. This project examines the facts and proceedings of this case and the concerns over the treatment of minors who are accused of migrant smuggling in Australia.
Participation of smuggled migrants in criminal justice proceedings against smugglers
Smuggled migrants are often reluctant to testify against their smugglers because they fear that they may be returned to their country of origin, that they may be harmed or threatened, or because their smugglers provided assistance that the migrants sought and paid for. This project examines the way in which smuggled migrants participate in criminal justice proceedings against their smuggler, the extent to which law enforcement and prosecutors require and rely on testimony by smuggled migrants, and the scope, application, and limitations of relevant provisions in international and domestic laws.
Smuggling of unaccompanied minors
This research project examines the smuggling of unaccompanied minors. It explores the causes, levels, and characteristics of this phenomenon and analyses relevant international laws and domestic practice in Australia, Austria, Italy, South Africa and the United States. The goals of this thesis are to document and analyse the phenomenon at global and national levels, examine existing laws and other measures aimed at preventing and combating the smuggling of unaccompanied minors, and develop strategies and recommendations for law reform in order to ensure the protection and humane treatment of minors in the irregular migration process.
Sri Lankan boat arrivals
In 2001 and again between 2011 and 2013, a growing number of vessels carrying smuggled migrants from Sri Lanka arrived in Australia. This research project explores the background, characteristics and consequences of these arrivals and the reasons why such smuggling has ceased.
Smuggling of migrants by way of sham marriage
In many countries, marriages of convenience (or sham marriages) are used to facilitate the illegal immigration and residence of migrants who would otherwise not be permitted to enter or remain in the host country. This project examines the patterns and characteristics of this type of migrant smuggling and relevant international laws and guidelines to prevent and combat this phenomenon.
The criminal justice response to smuggling of migrants in Malaysia
Malaysia is an important transit point for the smuggling of Middle Eastern and South Asian migrants to Indonesia and Australia. The country is not a Signatory to the Refugee Convention and has, at times, adopted controversial measures against smuggled migrants. This project explores the laws, law enforcement measures, and the role of prosecutors and the judiciary in combating the smuggling of migrants into and through Malaysia.
Abraham Louhanapessy aka Captain Bram
Mr Abraham Louhanapessy, also referred to as ‘Captain Bram’, is one of the most notorious organisers of migrant smuggling ventures from Indonesia and Australia. A large number of vessels carrying smuggled migrants to Australia have been attributed to him. This project examines the available information about Mr Louhanapessy, about the allegations and criminal proceedings against him, and places his story into the wider context of migrant smuggling from Indonesia to Australia.
Asylum applications from transit countries
One of the ways to prevent the smuggling of migrants is to create opportunities for asylum seekers to apply for asylum at embassies in transit countries such that it becomes unnecessary to engage migrant smugglers and undertake expensive and dangerous journeys to reach safe destination countries. For example, in 2001, in the aftermath of the so-called ‘Tampa Affair’, the Australian Government created a new visa class called ‘Secondary Movement Relocation (Temporary) Visa’ that was available to asylum applicants who apply for protection in a transit country and, if granted, would allow them to enter Australia for a period of five years. After 4.5 years, visa holders were entitled to apply for permanent residence. This project explores the rationale, operation, and outcome of this and similar schemes, and explores the questions how such methods can effectively reduce the smuggling of migrants in a meaningful way.
Immigration detention of smuggled migrants
Australia, along with some other countries, detains smuggled migrants who arrive in the country without a visa, often for very long periods. This research projects examines this practice in light of the obligations under the United Nations Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Air, and Sea.
Cambodian refugee deal
In an effort to deter smuggled migrants, most of them asylum seekers, from coming to Australia, in 2014 the Australian Government entered into an agreement with the Government of Cambodia that allows asylum seekers and refugees to be sent to Cambodia for resettlement. This project explores the background, rationale, and operation of this agreement and assesses the agreement against the state policy goals, international law, and international best practice.
Smuggled migrants turning into migrant smugglers
Many if not most of the organisers of migrant smuggling ventures into Australia were themselves smuggled migrants when they reached Australia or other transit and destination countries. This project explores the available evidence, case law, and literature on this point and analyses the causes and circumstances of this phenomenon.
Ships and Snakeheads: Chinese Boat Arrivals in Australia (1998-2000)
Ryan C Chan
In the late 1990s, Australia saw the arrival of several ‘suspected illegal entry vessels’ (SIEVs) carrying smuggled migrants from China, most of whom were young males from Fujian province. Most of these vessels sought to arrive clandestinely along Australia’s east coast. The arrivals sparked considerable controversy in Australia and resulted in drastic legislative amendments. This project explores the facts, context, and consequences of these arrivals, draw comparisons to other countries that witnessed migrant smuggling from Fujian province at that time, and explores how and why these arrivals ceased in the 21st century.
Criminal Justice Response to Smuggling of Migrants in Indonesia
This research project outlines and analyses the criminal justice response of Indonesia to smuggling of migrants. The project explores the levels and characteristics of migrant smuggling in Indonesia, identifies existing laws and law enforcement measures, assesses these against the standards set by international law and best practice guidelines, and develops recommendations to enhance the effectiveness of existing measures whilst protecting the rights of smuggled migrants.