Secret interviews with asylum seekers being held in Indonesia appear to confirm allegations that people smugglers were paid to turn back while trying to reach Australia, Tvnz.co.nz reported.
The claims first surfaced in an Amnesty International report last year involving a boat believed to be heading to New Zealand.
Two young Sri Lankan parents, who risked a dangerous high seas journey to escape conflict, say the Australian Navy gave them a message while allegedly paying off the people smugglers to turn back.
Parent Kandiah Kayuran said the message was, “don’t come back this way, go and die” and he said, “were left like that”.
British journalist Phil Miller secretly interviewed the couple and others being held at an Indonesian detention centre in Kupang City, West Timor.
Most of them have applied for asylum and are hoping for a new life in New Zealand, but the process could take years.
“This boat hit a reef off an island off Indonesia and sank. Fortunately they were rescued by local Indonesian fishermen,” Mr Miller said.
Mr Miller says conditions at the West Timor camp are dismal and there are half a dozen children including Mr Kayuran’s six-week-old girl there.
The Prime Minister says he hasn’t discussed how Australia turns back people smugglers.
But Grant Bayldon of Amnesty International says,”if there are trans-national crimes going on here, which is what the evidence suggests, then that’s a issue for New Zealand”.
John Key is meeting his Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull on Friday but this issue won’t be on the formal agenda. (Colombo Gazette)