INDONESIA: THE PEOPLE SMUGGLERS| 25mins
Director: Aela Callan | Producer: Aela Callan
Focus Years: 2012 | Country: Qatar
Last year, more than four and a half thousand people arrived in Australia illegally by boat. 1,300 more arrived in the first three months of this year. The Australian government has declared it wants to break the business model of people smugglers. One recent solution, to swap boat arrivals with refugees in Malaysia, failed after a high court challenge and now politicians are controversially proposing turning boats around. Few issues are as contentious in the Australian community and politics.
Much has been documented about the people from war-torn countries who seek better lives in Australia. But who are the Indonesian men who bring these people on treacherous journeys across the ocean? Declared "scum of the earth" by former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd, there is little public sympathy or understanding of the motives of these smugglers.
Australian Stuart Raj works as a translator in the Australian court system. After speaking to many Indonesian smugglers during their trials, he was shocked to learn how they were recruited and their naivete at what they were involved in. Along with lawyer David Svoboda, he has been personally funding his own travel missions to Indonesia to prove the stories of the smugglers going through the Australian court system. David has been responsible for the acquittal of 8 out of 11 recent people smuggling cases relating to boat drivers taking refugees to Australia's Ashmore reef. These trials cost the legal system, and Australian taxpayers, an estimated one million dollars each. He questions why the Australian system is concentrating on the pursuit of the small-scale smugglers, while the big players, operating openly in Asia, are not targeted. Both men believe Australia could make much more impact by educating people in Indonesia about the smuggling trade, addressing poverty, and working with Asian countries to target the money men.
101 East travels to Indonesia to visit people smugglers found innocent and guilty in the eyes of the Australian law and asks if they are really the ones to blame.