Honesty is the best policy on payments to smugglers

The Australian Government's continued silence on the payments to smugglers (crew members) may be putting those DIBP officials (civil servants) at risk of being persecuted under the Indonesian Laws. On this case, we should look at the Sub. 8 from Univ.of QLD, projecting two possible scenarios:

(i) Australia acknowledges 'the payment had occurred' and 'asserts it to be the conduct of an organ of Australia' under international law;
(ii) Australia refuses to do so.

The Submission states, if Australian Government acknowledges the payment occurred, "the Australian officials would be entitled to the protection of State immunity from proceedings in Indonesian courts. This is referred to as 'functional immunity' .... for Australian officials to benefit from State immunity, Australia must verify that the impugned acts were indeed acts within the scope of official duties as organs of Australia. (see. pp 18, Sub. 8)"

However, as things stand, the Australian government does not acknowledge the bribery payments had taken place. As such, the DIBP officials involved will not be protected from the Indonesian Laws as:

"Second, if Australia refused to accept the conduct as its own, Australian officials involved would not benefit from any immunity under international law before Indonesian courts. In situations where the government of a State does not wish to acknowledge and accept conduct as its own (which is not uncommon in situations involving covert intelligence operations), State officials can be subject to the criminal jurisdiction of other States. This is illustrated by the domestic criminal responsibility of French security agents before New Zealand courts in relation to the Rainbow Warrior incident. (see. pp 18, Sub. 8)".

In all likelihood, the Australian Government will not likely to front any further domestic scrutiny, i.e. The Royal Commission of which, at times, been suggested by AI etc.. In the stead, the Government will rather call an election, and hope everyone in Australia forget about the incident. As a consequence, those DIBP officials will be left unprotected.

Politicians and their policies, of course, come and go with election cycles. And yes, politicians can escape from further scrutiny most of the times. But, not for the civil servants who served under an executive government. I am hoping that "our" Government treats its civil servants with due respect and considerations. Honesty is the best policy.

-- In Solidarity, U Ne Oo.

Michael Pezzullo (left) and Maj Gen Andrew Bottrell at the Senate inquiry in Canberra; picture The Guardian.