November 22, 2018 / 6:14 AM / in a year

Australia jails PNG man for five years for people smuggling

SYDNEY (Reuters) - An Australian court has jailed a Papua New Guinean man for five years for people smuggling after he was caught attempting to bring Chinese nationals onto an island off the far north coast of Queensland.

Kolony Kala Bama was convicted on Monday of illegally transporting at least five people to Australia by boat in August last year, a Queensland court spokeswoman said. He had already served 450 days in custody.

There were six Chinese men on the boat, one of whom was working with Bama, media had reported.

Australia’s then Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the Chinese nationals had been sent back to China.

“We have detected a boatload of people coming to Australia. We have very good border security strategies in place and these people have been detected,” Bishop said at the time.

Under Australia’s tough immigration policy, asylum seekers arriving by boat are told they will never be allowed to settle in Australia. They are detained in detention centres on remote South Pacific islands until they are accepted by another nation or agree to return home.

The camps have been widely criticised by the United Nations and human rights groups.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that Australia would not sign the U.N. Compact for Migration because it would compromise its immigration policy. [nL4N1XV663]

Reporting by Karishma Luthria, Editing by John Mair and Nick Macfie

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