Amnesty International has released a report containing evidence of Australian Government officials paying people smugglers to redirect boats away from Australian waters.
The report, which recommends a royal commission into the alleged payments, includes damning evidence that Australian Navy and Border Force officials made payments to people smugglers on several occasions.
The Guardian Australia has reported that government officials have rejected the report although they have not addressed specific allegations regarding illegal payments.
The office of Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has condemned claims made in report.
“The Government has responded previously to these allegations, including in a submission to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee on 30 July 2015,” a spokesman said.
“People on intercepted vessels are held lawfully in secure, safe, humane, and appropriate conditions by the personnel of the Australian Border Force and the Australian Defence Force.
“To suggest otherwise, as Amnesty has done, is to cast a slur on the men and women of the ABF and ADF.”
UnitingJustice made a submission, to a parliamentary inquiry earlier this year, which outlined concerns around illegal payments made to people smugglers.
The submission read:
“If representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia were involved in payment of cash or other inducement to people smugglers, such actions would compromise the integrity and reputation of the Australian Government, risk encouraging the people smuggling trade and call into question the Government’s true concern for the safety of lives at sea.
“It is also likely that giving cash payments to people smugglers is against both international law and domestic law.”
Amnesty International is urging the community to sign a petition calling for a royal commission into Operation Sovereign Borders.
For more information visit www.amnesty.org.au.