Australia Grants the Release of 3 Indonesian Fishermen
Indonesia has welcomed the Australian government’s decision to release three underage fishermen from its Albany and Pardelup prisons in Western Australia.
Australian Attorney General Nicola Roxon announced the release of the three youths on Tuesday.
Roxon’s decision to release the trio is considered unusual because they were released early.
“In our view, the three suspects are adults. But the documents provided by the embassy of the Indonesian Republic indicated that one of the three might be underage,” Roxon said.
“Although we welcome the release, we’re still hoping that the Australian government will free all of the innocent children,” Dewi S. Wahab, the Foreign Ministry’s East Asia and Pacific director, said in a news release on Wednesday.
Dewi said the three Indonesians were freed after the Australian government received information that was not initially available. That information showed that they were underage when arrested.
Australia accused the three of violating the law and held them as suspects.
Previously, East Nusa Tenggara fishermen urged the Australian government to offer clemency to Indonesian fishermen being held in Australian jails after trespassing into the country’s waters.
Muhammad Ridwan, an advocate for the local fishermen, claimed that the Australian Coast Guard had treated them violently by sinking their boats and torturing them before putting them in jail. He added that the reports that they had crossed the maritime border were incorrect.
“The boats’ positions were still in Indonesian waters, as shown on the compass and other devices,” he said last month in Kupang, the provincial capital.
Fishermen from East Nusa Tenggara say they have lost 50 boats since 2002 to Australian maritime officers, who set them ablaze. The losses have been estimated at more than Rp 800 million ($85,000).
“[We] demand fair treatment in return for the Indonesian government’s decision to reduce the jail sentence for Australian drug convict Schapelle Corby,” Ridwan said. “We want compensation for the boats that were set on fire, the sentences for our fishermen reduced and amnesty from the Australian prime minister.”