Government should release the aerial surveillance photos

Marg Hutton
13 June 2013

At a press conference on Sunday Minister Jason Clare and Rear Admiral David Johnston both reassured the media that when BPC surveillance observed the boat that sank near Christmas Island last week there was nothing to indicate that any of the people on board - all of whom subsequently drowned - were in distress, despite the boat being stopped dead in the water.

Paris Aristotle, a member of the Government's expert Panel on Asylum seekers, writing in the wake of the tragedy stated in the Age yesterday

'Aerial surveillance confirmed there were at least 55 men, women and children on board [the boat that later sank], including at least two babies'.

What Aristotle didn't mention is that the P3 that overflew the boat before it sank would undoubtedly have taken photos as P3 surveillance requires the Orions 'fly past and photograph every contact' they observe.

We have so far denied the humanity of the men, women and children who drowned by refusing to retrieve even one of their dead bodies. We could at least return some semblance of humanity to these poor people and reassure the public that there was nothing in the demeanour of those on board the stricken vessel to indicate they were in distress, by immediately releasing the surveillance photos.

[Editor's note, 1 September 2013: Photos of the boat on the day it was initially sighted by Customs & Border Protection surveillance were released under FOI on 30 August 2013. See notice of decision and documents released.]


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