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How many of the 1500 asylum seeker lives lost at sea since 2001 could have been saved?
Zahra (6), Fatima (7) and Eman (9) - the daughters of Sondos Ismail and Ahmed Alzalimi -  three of the 146 children who lost their lives when the vessel that has become known as SIEVX foundered in international waters en route to Christmas Island on 19 October 2001.
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MEDIA

GOVERNMENT
Discussion On Daoed

by Marg Hutton
12 December 2003

Earlier today Dr U Ne Oo of NetIPR publicly responded to my short article regarding the upcoming trial of alleged SIEVX people smuggler, Khaleed Daoed (see below).

Dr Ne Oo stated that Daoed's upcoming trial would have nothing to do with the sinking of SIEVX - Daoed is only being charged with people smuggling offences and as SIEVX did not reach Australian shores then it follows that any people smuggling charges could not include SIEVX.

While I see the logic in Dr Ne Oo's analysis, oddly enough he is mistaken - Khaled Daoed is being charged with people smuggling offences in regard to two vessels, one of which is SIEVX.

Dr Ne Oo also raised the very good question of why Daoed has not been charged in relation to the deaths on SIEVX.

When news broke in October that Daoed was to be extradited to Australia, I asked a spokesperson from Justice Minister Ellison's office why manslaughter charges were not being laid against Daoed? I was told:

'Australia is unable to lay manslaughter charges for the SIEVX deaths for jurisdictional reasons... At the time of the SIEVX incident, Australia did not have manslaughter offences which applied extra-territorially (i.e. outside Australia) and in these circumstances.'

This was also confirmed by a spokesperson from the Shadow-Attorney General's office.

This response fits with information that surfaced last December when Minister Ellison was under intense pressure from the Senate to have Abu Quassey extradited to Australia to face charges over his part in the SIEVX drownings.

A number of legal opinions were sought at the time by journalists covering the case as to whether or not Quassey could be charged over the SIEVX deaths.

Professor Gillian Triggs from the Centre for Comparative and International Law at the University of Melbourne told Peter Mares that Australia had no jurisdiction because:

'[O]ur criminal laws relating to either murder or negligent manslaughter of one kind or another do not apply extra-territorially and that is the fundamental complexity that exists in relation to this prospect of extradition. And that is the core difficulty that our criminal laws are confined to the territory over which we have sovereignty. And in international waters by definition, we do not have sovereignty, and we do not typically have jurisdiction.'

Dr Jean-Pierre Fonteyne, senior lecturer in international law at the Australian National University, gave a similar opinion to journalist Annabel Crabb, saying that 'Australian authorities would be unable to prosecute Quassey [for homicide] whether the boat had been in international or Indonesian waters'.

It would seem that Dr Ne Oo has brought to light an apparent contradiction. Why is it that people smuggling charges can be laid in relation to the SIEVX voyage, but manslaughter charges cannot?

Dr Ne Oo also raised the issue of the delay in Daoed's case coming before a court. An examination of news reports on other people-smuggling cases indicates that a five month delay is not inordinately long. For example, it took more than two years for the trial of alleged people smuggler Keis Asfoor to come to court...


To: rran@yahoogroups.com, racadelaide@yahoogroups.com.au
From: Dr U Ne Oo
Date: 12 December 2003

[In response to this article]

I think we will be mistaken if we believe that the reported trial of alleged people smuggler Khaleed Daoed is in some way connected to SIEV-X sinking. This is because the Australian government extradicted Mr Daoed on the charges of alleged "people smuggling" on which, if Mr Daoed being questioned at the court, only be answerable about the refugee boats he had organised which arrived Australian shore (obviously does not include SIEV-X). Unless a specific charges relating to the deaths on SIEV-X is laid, the alleged smuggler would not be able to provide any information regarding with sinking of SIEV-X.

On the one hand, any such trial on individual "people smuggler" does not resolve the issue of human rights violations by the state actors. Insofar as human rights violations is concerned, the Indonesian National Police and the people belongs to Australian Border Protection Regime must be held to account in regards to SIEV-X sinking.

Australian government seems to be suppressing any issue that has potential to raise the question about SIEV-X. Seen in this context, the reported trial of Mr Daoed is merely to divert the public concerns on SIEV-X (Why trial be delayed until April?). The Australian government appear to take advantage of the fact that in general public the issue of refugee boats, people smugglers and SIEV-X deaths (which caused public most concerns) are blurred and blended into one. The public media being quiet -- might make an excuse on alleged "people smuggler" be prejudiced if court proceeding are reported on media -- but is not surprising I suppose.

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