Another asylum seeker boat brings total to almost 600 people

March 28, 2013

A BOAT carrying 147 asylum-seekers was intercepted south-west of Darwin on Wednesday, bringing the total for the week to almost 600 and placing further strain on Australia’s detention facilities.

Authorities have either stopped or rescued seven boats since Sunday, including one which capsized on Monday killing two people and injuring seven others.

More than 3000 people have been stopped trying to get to Australia this year alone, more than double the number in the first three months of last year.

It came as the Department of Immigration and Citizenship revealed another 20 people had been transferred to the processing centre on Nauru.

The group of mostly Pakistani and Afghan men left Christmas Island on Tuesday by aircraft and arrived in Nauru about 8am local time on Wednesday.

Customs and Border Protection confirmed it would review the circumstances surrounding the response to Monday’s tragedy in which two people, including a small child, died.

Chief executive officer Michael Pezzullo said such an inquiry was routine after any significant maritime incident.

“In light of the tragic loss of two lives during the incident, it is prudent and entirely appropriate that an assessment of the operation is conducted to determine whether correct operational procedures and processes were followed and to ascertain any potential areas for improvement in those procedures,” Mr Pezzullo said.

As part of the assessment process, Customs and Border Protection will construct a chronology of the incident and ensure all relevant documents and any recordings or imagery are captured.

Source: http://www.mydailynews.com.au/news/another-asylum-seeker-boat-brings-total-almost-600/1809370/

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2 Comments

Filed under Boat Intercepted

2 responses to “Another asylum seeker boat brings total to almost 600 people

  1. I regard Mr Pezzullo’s announced internal Customs assessment of procedures and process in Monday’s interception near Christmas Island that involved the death of two asylum seekers, a woman and young boy, as a positive development. I am cautiously optimistic. Maybe this is the first step on the road to a public coronial inquest?.

    However, I hope that in any case the documents, imagery and conclusions from the internal inquiry will be made public,: and that they will include reports of any phonecalls made to and from Ocean Protector before and during the interception.

    I hope the media will follow this significant story. Congratulations to the HazaraAsylumSeekers site for picking it up- I first read it here today..
    ( Sorry editor, I wrongly filed this comment under another story. It should be here. TK).

  2. I have now found the official source of the above news report announcing an internal Customs inquiry into the two deaths in the 25 March (Monday) interception of a boat 14 Nm from Christmas Island. It is a Customs Department media release as follows:

    http://www.customs.gov.au/site/130327mediarelease_SARupdate.asp

    Search and rescue incident off Christmas Island – final update – 27 March 2013 (Underlined)

    ACV Ocean Protector has resumed operational duties following Monday’s (25 March) search and rescue operation north of Christmas Island.

    Of the 96 people recovered, including tragically two deceased, seven people required medical attention. Four were treated at Christmas Island Hospital and have been discharged into the care of Department of Immigration and Citizenship staff. Three people, including a six year old boy and two women in their 30s, were transferred by the Royal Flying Doctor Service to a Perth hospital where they are all in a stable condition.

    As part of standard operating procedures, Customs and Border Protection is reviewing the circumstances surrounding the response to the incident.

    Chief Executive Officer, Michael Pezzullo, said the Service routinely evaluated and reviewed procedures in response to any significant maritime incident or other event.

    “In light of the tragic loss of two lives during the incident, it is prudent and entirely appropriate that an assessment of the operation is conducted to determine whether correct operational procedures and processes were followed and to ascertain any potential areas for improvement in those procedures,” Mr Pezzullo said.

    As part of this assessment process, Customs and Border Protection will construct a chronology of the incident and ensure all relevant documents and any recordings or imagery are captured.

    The assessment will include consideration of any factors affecting the safety and wellbeing of the people on board the asylum seeker vessel and Customs and Border Protection officers, and whether the appropriate policies and procedures were implemented. It will also identify if changes to policies and procedures are required to improve operational safety.

    “Information gathered during this assessment would of course be made available to any subsequent formal inquiry process,” Mr Pezzullo said.

    Customs and Border Protection has begun its assessment, which is not designed to replace any police investigations or coronial processes that may be announced into the incident.

    Customs and Border Protection will fully support any formal inquiries or investigations as required
    ENDS

    Note the last two sentences – this is encouraging news.
    I understand that there has been no contact yet from people who were on the boat, now on Christmas Island, with family members in Australia. I hope there will be soon.

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