Amnesty accuses Australia of paying people smugglers

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Amnesty International has used full-page ads in Australian newspapers to accuse border protection officials of illegally paying people smugglers and endangering lives in their efforts to prevent asylum seeker boats from reaching Australian shores.

The London-based human rights group’s extraordinary advertising campaign in Australia’s largest cities of Sydney and Melbourne on Thursday followed the release of a report on Wednesday condemning the government’s highly secretive Operation Sovereign Borders, a flotilla that has all but stopped asylum seeker boats from reaching Australia.

The Australian government has rejected the report and denied any wrongdoing.

Amnesty claims that Australian officials were “complicit in a transnational crime” in May when they paid people smugglers $32,000 to take a boat carrying 65 asylum seekers bound for New Zealand to an Indonesian port.

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