International Shipping and People Smuggling
Posted on December 15, 2013
We have all seen, at one time or another, harrowing reports of migrants crossing the seas aboard makeshift boats for a chance at a better future, and the terrible and dangerous conditions they travel in. Australia has been a popular destination for asylum seekers from Indonesia but recent legislative changes allowing them to turn back ships has forced people smugglers to be more creative about their method of transportation.
Australia’s tough stance has raised heated debates among the international community and remains very controversial as it violates some international laws, such as the Law of the Sea, International Refugee Law and Human Rights Law. There is a duty, for example, to assist vessels and their passengers when in danger, which is often the case with those overcrowded wooden boats. So, although there would be a chance that such migrant ships would be rescued and their occupants taken to Australia, smugglers, being astute business men, are unwilling to take the risk.
They have therefore devised a way to go around this deterrent and are now offering migrants to lock them up in sealed shipping containers to get them to their ports of destination, exotically naming the trip the ‘cruise ship’ option. While this may feel like a safer mean of transport than wooden boats, this is by no way an improvement, as migrants and asylum seekers face other challenges that are no less life-threatening than braving the open seas on a ramshackle boat, and there have been several instances of people being found dead or severely ill due to suffocation and dehydration.
Smugglers are also encouraging migrants to go to New Zealand rather than Australia, on the erroneous claim that immigration laws are less stringent, despite the fact that New Zealand has also recently toughened its immigration laws, possibly spelling the end of the dream for these people.
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