West Timor care supports Australia freeing children imprisonment

West Timor care supports Australia freeing children imprisonment

"Pollution has destroyed the livelihoods of East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) coastal islands."
Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara (ANTARA News) - Chairman of the West Timor Care Foundation (YPTB) Ferdi Tanoni supports the plan mooted by the Australian Government to free 54 Indonesian child trafficking victims that continue to be detained in Australian prisons.

"Australia must immediately free these children and a number of traditional Indonesian fishermen who were arrested and jailed a few years ago without strong legal evidence," said Tanoni here on Friday.

Tanoni also said that these under-aged children are victims of human smuggling syndicates that use them as part of the crew, and are later arrested and detained on charges of illegally entering the Australian territory.

There is a rampant practice of smuggling people and asylum seekers from Indonesia to Australia due to bleak economic factors, Tanoni said.

"One of the triggers is the Timor Sea oil pollution that occurred in mid-2009. Pollution has destroyed the livelihoods of East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) coastal islands," he said.

"The small amount of fish they catch has forced them to look for an alternative income by selling services to asylum seekers who cross over to Australia by making large payments," Tanoni added.

According to Tanoni, the Indonesian Government should not remain silent on the issue, because there are too many traditional Indonesian fishermen arrested on charges of fishing illegally and who continue to be detained in Australia for allegedly entering Australian waters.

Indonesia and Australia are still bound by the "Traditional Fishing Act in 1974" that essentially allows traditional fishers from Indonesia to catch or look for shells up to the Sand Island (Ashmore Reef).

"We urge the Australian government to immediately release the detained Indonesian citizens, because it is contrary to the international law and the laws of its own country," he said.

There are still many Indonesian citizens who are detained in Australia as a result of a weak Indonesian diplomacy. Thus to liberate these Indonesians, prisoner bartering as happened in the Schapelle Leigh Corby`s case --- who was jailed in a drug related cases, must be stopped.

Tanoni also added that he is still fighting for fishermen`s compensation by the Australian Government after the Australia`s Northern Territory Court decided to demolish fishing ships, owned by Indonesian traditional fishermen, following their arrests at the hands of flimsy legal evidence some time ago.

Earlier, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono also welcomed the Australian Government`s policy to free under-aged children who are victims of human trafficking.