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Gillard government must heed advice and fix people smuggling laws

The Attorney General should urgently revise Australia's mandatory sentencing for people smuggling convictions which fails to punish the real culprits after a Brisbane court today jailed an impoverished Indonesian fisherman for five years, the Australian Greens said.

"Judge Martin said the mandatory sentence did not let the court consider the facts in the case, including that the illiterate Indonesian was exploited by the organisers of people smuggling syndicates," Greens' immigration spokesperson, Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young, said.

"This is not new criticism of the government's people smuggling laws. There is a growing chorus of concern from judges across the country.

"On a day when the government is exposed for failing to successfully prosecute a king pin people smuggler in Indonesia, it is being criticised by the courts for coming down unjustly on the poor fishermen being used as boat crew.

"Australian judges have criticised the federal law for not allowing courts to ‘show mercy' and for not letting them factor in mitigating circumstances.

"Nicola Roxon must take the courts' concerns seriously and move swiftly to remove the mandatory sentencing provision from the Migration Act.

"Foreign Minister Rudd has this week told his Indonesian counterpart that Australia and Indonesia must work closer together to combat people smuggling - a position the Greens support.

"The Gillard government can demonstrate its intentions by amending the law to punish the organizers rather than the poor Indonesian boys and adult fishermen who themselves have been tricked and manipulated."


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