Australian police hunt migrants missing in crocodile-infested waters

Australian police are seeking around a dozen suspected asylum seekers believed to be hiding in a crocodile-i...

Posted: Aug 28, 2018 6:36 PM
Updated: Aug 28, 2018 6:36 PM

Australian police are seeking around a dozen suspected asylum seekers believed to be hiding in a crocodile-infested rainforest after their boat ran aground near Port Douglas in Queensland.

Home Affairs minister Peter Dutton confirmed Monday that "Australia has received the first vessel, the first people smuggling venture in over 1,400 days," adding there was an "operation underway" to locate the migrants, believed to be from Vietnam.

Australia

Continents and regions

Immigration

Immigration, citizenship and displacement

International relations and national security

Oceania

Political asylum

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Marine vessels

Transportation and warehousing

Marine transportation

Political Figures - Intl

Scott Morrison

Alligators and crocodiles

Animals

Crime, law enforcement and corrections

Criminal investigations

Criminal law

Fugitives and manhunts

Law and legal system

Life forms

Reptiles and amphibians

Micronesia (Region)

Nauru

Accidents, disasters and safety

Border control

Disaster relief

International relations

National security

Refugees

Territorial and national borders

Peter Dutton

Around 15 of those who were on board the boat have been detained by border force officers, Queensland Police Minister Mark Ryan told reporters, but a similar number are believed to be seeking refuge in the Daintree rainforest, an area of dense mangroves known to be infested with salt-water crocodiles.

The arrival of a migrant vessel on the Australian mainland is a dramatic failure of the country's expensive and highly criticized zero-tolerance "stop the boats" immigration policy.

It also comes just days after the man responsible for that policy -- Scott Morrison -- became Australian Prime Minister, after turfing out his predecessor Malcolm Turnbull in an inter-party battle.

'Open air prisons'

Australia has long been an attractive destination for those in Asia and beyond seeking refuge from conflict, poverty and political repression.

Under successive conservative governments, the country has passed hardline policies designed to dissuade asylum seekers from making the often dangerous water crossing from Southeast Asia to northern Australia.

Following the 2013 election, the ruling Liberal-National Coalition -- with Morrison as Minister for Immigration and Border Protection -- launched Operation Sovereign Borders (OSB), vowing to "stop the boats."

Since then, the number of asylum seekers arriving in the Australian mainland by boat has fallen from a peak in 2013 of 20,587 to zero, according to a parliamentary research paper released last year.

A group of Chinese nationals landed on Sabai Island, about 150 kilometers (93 miles) north of the Australian mainland close to Papua New Guinea, in August 2017.

While no asylum seekers have made it to mainland since OSB launched, they have not gone away. Since 2012, the Australian government has intercepted boats headed to Australia and moved migrants to offshore detention camps on the Pacific nations of Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

Under international law, people seeking asylum are guaranteed certain rights and protections, but in most cases may only make a claim on landing in the country they are attempting to gain refugee status in. By preventing asylum seekers from reaching Australia, Canberra effectively dodges these obligations.

Detainees within offshore the camps are banned from being settled on the Australian mainland, leaving many without any alternative but remaining in what have been described as "open air prisons."

Last week, a 12-year-old boy was airlifted to Australia for medical attention after refusing food and water for weeks. A 2016 United Nations report found many cases of "attempted suicide, self-immolation, acts of self-harm and depression" among children detained on Nauru.

According to UNICEF, the operation has also been hugely costly to the Australian taxpayer, running up a bill of at least $7 billion (9.6 billion AUD) "between 2013 and 2016 in maintaining offshore processing, onshore mandatory detention and boat turn-backs."

'Should be sent to Nauru'

Steve Ciobo, the recently named Defense Industry Minister, told CNN affiliate Sky News Australia Monday the suspected asylum seekers "should be taken into custody ... and they should be sent to Nauru."

"They should be sent somewhere offshore if we're able to do it under our international obligations," he added. "They should not be allowed to stay in Australia. We may not be able to do that under conventions, we'll have to have a look at it."

David Manne, executive director of the Refugee Legal, said that "at the very time that Australia should be trying to resolve the plight of so many people who have been marooned in Nauru and (Papua New Guinea) ... we should not be compounding this humanitarian crisis by exiling more people there."

Under international law, Australia is obligated to process asylum seekers without exposing them to additional harm, which Manne said would inevitably occur if they were sent to offshore camps.

"If these people are seeking asylum Australia should honor its obligations under the Refugee Convention by processing and providing protection to them in Australia instead of sending them into indefinite exile and inevitable anguish," he said.

Key Liberal policy

While Australia's hardline migrant policies have been roundly criticized by rights groups and international bodies, they remain a point of pride for the ruling Liberal Party.

On the Liberal Party's website, recently revamped under new leader Morrison, "securing Australia's borders" is listed as an achievement of the Coalition government.

"It has been over three years without a boat arrival," the website still said Monday. "We have turned around Labor's failure and taken back control of our borders from the people smugglers."

Both Morrison and his challenger in last weeks Liberal party leadership battle, Peter Dutton, built their reputations on anti-migrant policies.

Dutton was returned to Morrison's cabinet Monday as Home Affairs Minister, however, a separate Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs was also named, shifting certain powers from a ministry under Turnbull that was seen as growing too powerful.

Manne said, due to the uncertain political situation, it was unclear what effect the changed would have on migration policy, but that "successive governments have locked themselves into a deterrence policy where protection of borders has been prioritized over the protection of people."

"In the last five years, Australia has spent billions of dollars to exile and indefinitely incarcerate and ultimately destroy thousands of people that it is morally and legally duty bound to protect," he said.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 61839

Reported Deaths: 1707
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin19569839
Ramsey7717268
Dakota4507106
Anoka3752115
Stearns290920
Washington216345
Nobles17686
Olmsted176723
Scott159020
Mower11052
Rice10388
Blue Earth9325
Wright8975
Carver8783
Clay78840
Sherburne7328
Kandiyohi7021
St. Louis57319
Todd4292
Lyon4253
Freeborn3601
Steele3512
Nicollet34713
Watonwan3230
Benton3203
Winona26416
Beltrami2440
Crow Wing23814
Le Sueur2261
Martin2095
Chisago2041
McLeod2020
Goodhue1999
Otter Tail1983
Cottonwood1780
Becker1611
Pipestone1589
Polk1554
Waseca1490
Itasca14612
Douglas1441
Carlton1420
Unassigned13141
Dodge1290
Isanti1290
Pine1290
Murray1241
Chippewa1071
Morrison931
Wabasha930
Brown892
Faribault890
Meeker872
Rock850
Sibley842
Koochiching793
Jackson790
Pennington751
Cass742
Mille Lacs723
Fillmore670
Renville665
Lincoln580
Grant563
Swift551
Yellow Medicine520
Roseau520
Pope480
Houston420
Aitkin411
Norman400
Kanabec371
Redwood360
Hubbard350
Wilkin343
Marshall290
Wadena270
Mahnomen271
Red Lake240
Big Stone220
Lake210
Stevens180
Clearwater140
Traverse110
Lac qui Parle80
Cook50
Lake of the Woods40
Kittson30

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 49380

Reported Deaths: 942
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk10444208
Woodbury373452
Black Hawk315766
Linn242888
Johnson211819
Dallas189835
Buena Vista179412
Scott174314
Dubuque169831
Marshall145026
Pottawattamie133228
Story117315
Wapello90533
Muscatine85148
Webster8268
Crawford7313
Sioux6433
Cerro Gordo63417
Warren5721
Tama55429
Jasper48127
Wright4751
Plymouth47011
Clinton4164
Dickinson3844
Louisa37814
Washington30510
Boone2623
Hamilton2511
Franklin24512
Bremer2307
Clarke2043
Clay2011
Carroll1942
Emmet1934
Des Moines1872
Shelby1861
Hardin1840
Marion1750
Poweshiek1608
Benton1601
Floyd1582
Allamakee1564
Jackson1561
Mahaska14217
Guthrie1355
Cedar1341
Jones1332
Buchanan1291
Henry1274
Madison1252
Butler1252
Hancock1212
Lee1183
Humboldt1181
Pocahontas1172
Delaware1171
Lyon1152
Harrison1101
Cherokee1101
Clayton1063
Taylor1000
Winneshiek971
Iowa971
Page950
Monona910
Kossuth900
Mills890
Palo Alto880
Jefferson870
Calhoun862
Winnebago860
Sac860
Fayette850
Osceola840
Grundy801
Mitchell790
Cass791
Union781
Monroe748
Lucas734
Worth670
Davis612
Montgomery604
Chickasaw550
Appanoose513
Howard500
Fremont430
Greene430
Keokuk371
Van Buren361
Ida310
Adair300
Audubon291
Decatur250
Ringgold231
Wayne201
Adams160
Unassigned10
Rochester
Broken Clouds
68° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 68°
Mason City
Clear
69° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 69°
Albert Lea
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 68°
Austin
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 68°
Charles City
Broken Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 70°
More rain chances to finish off the work week
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

MSHSL releases guidelines for fall training sessions

Image

Hagedorn Introduces Livestock Relief Bill

Image

A Closer Look at Boating Safety

Image

Funding child care during the work week

Image

Rochester leaders consider their successors

Image

Sara's 10pm Forecast - Wednesday

Image

Sara;s 6pm Forecast - Wednesday

Image

Clear Lake school projects

Image

Mower County Fair Virtual Tour

Image

Racial Equality for Civic Engagement

Community Events