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NZ Sends Stark Message To People Smugglers

28 June 2002

NZ Sends Stark Message To People Smugglers And Potential Boat People

A stark warning of likely death or heavy penalties is hitting its mark with people-smugglers and potential illegal migrants, Foreign Minister Phil Goff said today.

“Three thousand pamphlets have been distributed in towns and ports in Indonesia directly to potential illegal migrants warning them of the perils of undertaking a journey to New Zealand.

“Reports from Jakarta reveals the pamphlets are making an impact with potential illegal immigrants becoming doubtful about travelling to New Zealand after seeing the pamphlet.

“The reports suggest that potential boat-people are taking the pamphlet seriously and seeing the journey as too dangerous. There is also concern that the attention New Zealand is giving the issue means that any such venture could be in jeopardy because of the likelihood of their departure being detected.

“We have received feedback as well that the people smugglers see the pamphlet campaign as an obstacle to attracting business.

“As well as those already distributed in Indonesia, a further 25,000 pamphlets will be put around in that country and in other nations such as Iran, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam.

“The pamphlets further highlight the new laws passed recently by the Government which provide for severe penalties including fines of up to half a million dollars and twenty years imprisonment for those responsible for smuggling people.

“The pamphlet titled ‘AVOID A TRAGEDY’ gives the following warnings in four languages; English, Arabic, Bahasa (Indonesian) and Farsi (Iranian).

A voyage to New Zealand by boat is dangerous. New Zealand is 8,000 kilometres from Indonesia across rough, open oceans. The voyage would take at least a month and you would be cold, ill and miserable. But you probably won’t even make it. You and your relatives would more likely drown in the attempt.

Don’t be fooled by people smugglers. People smugglers just want your money. Once they have it they don’t care if you drown, or that you never see New Zealand.

Even if you do make it, New Zealand law provides for those arriving illegally to be detained. You face that prospect while your asylum claim is processed. Most claims made in New Zealand fail. If your claim fails you will be sent home.

People smugglers, and anybody assisting them, face fines of up to $500,000. Any boats involved will be confiscated. Captains and crew caught trying to smuggle people to New Zealand can expect to be away from home for 20 years. This is the time they will serve in prison.

“The pamphlet distribution is not merely a scare tactic. A fishing vessel carrying 34 people purported to be headed for New Zealand is now thought by the Indonesian navy and media to have sunk. In the last couple of years hundreds of others crammed on to unseaworthy vessels have drowned.

“The warning is therefore a real one, reinforcing to those who are thinking of giving people-smugglers their business that a journey to New Zealand is dangerous and possibly fatal.

“New Zealand’s geographic isolation has provided an effective natural defence against people smugglers and illegal migrants arriving by boat. However we cannot be complacent. We are receiving persistent rumours of people smugglers recruiting for voyages to Australia and New Zealand.

“Our concern is both for the safety of illegal migrants and to uphold New Zealand’s right to regulate migration to our country. It is important that the message is given loud and clear that New Zealand is not a soft touch for illegal migration and the criminal organisations involved in people smuggling,” Mr Goff said.

Ends

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