[Extracted from Senate Hansard, 28 February 2006]

Siev X
(Question No. 1408)

Senator Milne asked the Minister for Justice and Customs, upon notice, on 1 December 2005:

(1) (a) What factors, other than failure to ascertain the exact point at which the SIEV X sank, were relevant to the inability to prove jurisdiction to pursue the prosecution of those persons who organised the voyage; and (b) did the Government receive legal advice regarding a lack of Australian jurisdiction to proceed with a case of homicide against Abu Quassey and others allegedly involved in the attempt to smuggle people aboard the SIEV X; if so, can that advice be provided.

(2) Have members of the Indonesian Police now interviewed the harbourmaster of Sunda Kelapa port in North Jakarta in relation to the SIEV X; if so: (a) have the Indonesian Police passed on a report to Australian authorities; and (b) can the details of this report be provided.

(3) (a) Have the Australian Federal Police (AFP) or the Indonesian Police interviewed the fishermen who rescued the SIEV X survivors; (b) have Australian authorities received a report on any such interviews; (c) were coordinates of the rescue position of the SIEV X obtained through any of these interviews; and (d) how did these coordinates match with those contained in the North Jakarta harbourmasterís report of 24 October 2001.

(4) (a) Has the AFP interviewed the survivors of the SIEV X; if so, how many have been interviewed; if not, why not; and (b) will the Government interview all of the survivors of the SIEV X who remain in Australia.

Senator Ellison -The answer to the honourable senatorís question is as follows:

(1) (a) Under section 232A of the Migration Act 1958, jurisdiction is proved if the intention is to bring five or more noncitizens into Australia. Those involved in the commission of such an offence need not arrive in Australia to complete the offence. Jurisdiction was not an issue in relation to the people smuggling offences in this matter. Two organisers of the SIEV X venture were identified. Mr Khalef Daoed has been prosecuted and convicted in Australian courts on Migration Act offences. Mr Abu Quassey was prosecuted and convicted in Egypt for offences relating to SIEV X.

(b) In these circumstances, Australia does not have any jurisdiction to prosecute a foreign national in Australian courts for allegedly committing an act of homicide against a foreign national, in a foreign country or international waters. As an Egyptian citizen, Mr Abu Quassey was prosecuted and convicted under Egyptian law for manslaughter and people smuggling offences in relation to the SIEV X. The AFP has worked closely with the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions and the Attorney-Generalís Department on this matter, with operational decisions being made on the basis of the available evidence. The conviction of Mr Quassey on charges relating to this matter in Egypt has precluded any future prosecution in Australia on the basis of double jeopardy.

(2) Enquiries conducted by AFP officers with the assistance of the Indonesian National Police in Indonesia identified that the departure point for the vessel SIEV X was not an authorised port of departure. The local authorities advised that no permission or authorisation was ever granted to the vessel to depart from that location or Indonesian waters. No documents were created in relation to its departure, nor were any records identified relating to the inspection of the vessel by Indonesian authorities prior to departure.

A North Jakarta Harbour Master was spoken to by Australian officials in the days following the loss of the SIEV X. Those Australian officials viewed pages of the harbour masterís report and were satisfied that the document contained no record of the departure of the vessel. AFP officers subsequently obtained a copy of this document.

(a) Refer answer above.

(b) Refer to answer 2.

(3) (a) AFP officers have liaised with Indonesian authorities in relation to identifying the fishermen who rescued the SIEV X survivors. All efforts by AFP officers to identify the fishermen have failed. This avenue of enquiry has now been exhausted.

(b) Refer to answer (a).

(c) Refer to answer (a).

(d) Refer to answer (a).

(4) (a) AFP officers have interviewed all known survivors of the SIEV X, including those remaining in Australia and those resettled overseas. Forty-eight persons who were either concerned with or were survivors of the SIEV X have been identified and interviewed.

(b) Refer to answer (a).

X-URL:http://www.aph.gov.au/hansard/senate/dailys/ds280206.pdf

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