Indonesia hails new Australian asylum-seeker policy

JAKARTA, April 12, 2010 (AFP) – Indonesia said Monday that Australia’s decision to stop processing asylum seekers from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka will be “positive” for the region’s fight against trafficking. Foreign ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said the tough new policy, which has been condemned by rights watchdogs and refugee supporters, would have a direct impact on the movement of undocumented migrants around Southeast Asia.

“It will have a positive impact on the region, not just one particular country… it could be Indonesia, Malaysia or Thailand,” he told AFP, referring to other countries with entrenched people trafficking syndicates.

“This is definitely a clear message to those who try to smuggle migrants, that they are only offering false hopes because there’s nothing visible on the horizon,” he said.

“For the network of smugglers, they will now have to think twice about sending migrants to Australia.”

Critics have called Australia’s move last week a knee-jerk reaction to political pressure over border security ahead of elections, but Faizasyah said Canberra gave it a lot of thought.

“What Australia has done is a process of evaluation and discussion. They must h