New law would jail a modern Oskar Schindler

28 April 2010

Professor Mary Crock and Associate Professor Ben Saul suggest a modern-day Oskar Schindler would be jailed for up 10 years under the Rudd government's proposed crackdown on people smuggling.

In an article in today's Sydney Morning Herald, Professor Crock said, ''It's mind-blowing legislation. I've never seen anything like it.

''These laws capture innocent people who may be operating under perfectly good humanitarian reasons.''

Associate Professor Ben Saul said the changes had evaded the attention of refugee communities they would affect.

''Unfortunately, most of the focus was on recent changes to asylum policy,'' he said. ''This one's snuck under the radar.''

The Tampa captain, Arne Rinnan, who rescued more than 400 asylum seekers from a sinking boat, would have been jailed if the laws had existed in 2001, Professor Saul said.

''You could capture anyone, from a mariner at sea who saves people whose lives are at risk on the high seas - like captain Arne Rinnan who was the captain of the Tampa - through to people who saved Jews from extermination in the Second World War, like Oskar Schindler who didn't do it for a profit,'' he said.

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