Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ali Jasmin..the 13 year-old 'people smuggler'

The shocking story of a 13 year-old boy, called Ali Jasmin,
and an uncaring bureaucracy...

This is the story of a 13 year-old boy named Ali Yasmin (Or Jasmin as we call him in Australia). 

Yasmin Ali is an Indonesian child who has been locked-up in a Western Australian maximum security prison for over two years when he should be home in a remote village of Indonesia with his mum and dad. 

The WA-based Indonesia Institute - who have been campaigning for the release of Indonesian children from Australian jails for over two years - is in possession of documentary proof that shows Ali Yasmin was only 13 years of age when arrested in 2009 and was 14 years of age when convicted by and Australian District Court of people smuggling. 

Yasmin was jailed under mandatory sentencing laws for five years in 2010 for this so-called people smuggling. This was despite the Legal Aid lawyer being in possession of a birth certificate showing the boy was born in 1996. 

The birth certificate was never presented by the lawyer to the court in 2010 or at the appeal in 2011. 

Even more damning is that the Department of Immigration (DIAC) was also given documentary evidence by the Indonesian Consul-General in WA, that confirmed Yasmin was a child, but DIAC failed to act on this information. As a result, this boy - who was then 14 years of age - was placed in a WA maximum security prison amongst murderers, rapists, and drug traffickers. And he is still there today! 

Reports obtained by our institute and presented by Hamish MacDonald of the Ten's "The Project" this week provide conclusive proof that not only is Yasmin still a child, but that our authorities have failed to act to ensure this young boy was sent home in 2010, despite being in possession of these documents. 

The Institute also has a letter from Greg Ralph, Director of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) Indonesia Section that states.... 

'Where there is any uncertainty about age, people smuggling crew are given the benefit of the doubt and returned home to Indonesia'. 

But not Yasmin apparently? 

Despite this absolute guarantee by DFAT, our authorities have knowingly failed to act to send Yasmin back home. 

This outrageous situation should make all Australians feel ashamed. Mandatory sentencing, combined with a government 'hell bent' on being seen to be 'tough on people smuggling' , has seen a 13 year-old boy from an extremely remote and poor part of Indonesia - who was simply a cook on one of these boats - placed in an adult maximum security prison in Western Australia for over two years. 

What we need now is an investigation into why our bureaucrats sat back and let this boy suffer in jail like this whilst they knew that he was a child? 

In the meantime, Yasmin should be pardoned and sent home now.

Ross Taylor
Indonesia Institute

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