Australian police implicated in people smuggling

Issue 

BY SARAH STEPHEN

For two years, Kevin John Enniss was a paid informant of the Australian Federal Police (AFP). He was also at the heart of the people-smuggling business in Indonesia.

Enniss went far beyond the normal role of an informant. At the very least, Enniss was allowed to be an agent provocateur, to pose as a people smuggler to asylum seekers, to be an active player in a criminal trade.

Channel Nine's Sunday program began an investigation into Enniss's activities in 2001. Their first report was screened on February 17 this year; the second on September 1. Enniss was caught on camera using his police links to convince people that he could get them to Australia. He took money from asylum seekers, then turned them in to Indonesian officials.

Initially, Sunday was prepared to back off the story if Enniss was working as an AFP informant and the AFP felt the broadcast of the story would jeopardise an ongoing operation. But, according to Sunday, the AFP responded with evasion and lies.

In addition, Enniss didn't pay much attention to maintaining secrecy about his links with Australian authorities. According to claims made by an asylum seeker, Hussein, on Sunday's September 1 program, Enniss boasted that he was an Australian police officer who could send Hussein to Australia if he paid him money. Far from concealing his informant role, Enniss was posing as a corrupt cop.

Dick Moses, AFP director of international operations, told Sunday's February 17 program that the AFP had not authorised any informant to involve themselves in people smuggling, nor to take money from asylum seekers trying to get to Australia. However, during a Senate inquiry hearing in February, AFP commissioner Mick Keelty admitted "we knew he was engaged in people smuggling because he was telling us what was going on".

The fact that the AFP knew and did nothing to stop Enniss, and in fact continued to take information from him, means that it was criminally involved. According to Sydney University criminal law expert, Professor Mark Findlay, the AFP has most probably committed offences under federal law. Findlay told Sunday's September 1 program that he believes that Enniss "represented himself as a people smuggler, most probably was a people smuggler".

The AFP paid Enniss more than $25,000 for his role as an informant on asylum seekers trying to get to Australia.

Sunday reporter Ross Coulthart pointed out: "Despite the fact that he admits he never asked for legal advice, Keelty has consistently claimed that neither the AFP nor Enniss broke any Australian laws. Then, the commissioner claimed to parliament that even if an informant like Enniss had committed a crime, he'd be protected under what are called controlled operations laws — immunity provisions under the Crimes Act."

Findlay told Sunday's September 1 program: "He certainly is wrong... Firstly, was it a controlled operation in Indonesia? I don't think the legislation covers that. Secondly, even if the legislation was in force, the act does not cover informers, and in addition to that it does not cover individuals who are involved in entrapment procedures, and in many situations this is exactly what Enniss was doing."

What's perhaps most disturbing is that Enniss boasted to Coulthart and his team that he had paid Indonesian locals on four or five occasions to scuttle people-smuggling boats with passengers on them. "When we reacted with horror", Coulthart said, "he was unrepentant, saying the boats were sunk close to land so everyone got off safely".

Sunday's September 1 program noted a precedent in Australia's recent history to suggest that sabotage has been used before to stop asylum-seeker boats. In a 1992 ABC documentary, former immigration officer Greg Humphries admitted that boats carrying Vietnamese asylum seekers were deliberately holed just off the Malaysian coast to stop them continuing to Australia.

Humphries said: "We took a pretty broad interpretation of the terms of reference to stop these boats. We did because we had some very capable fellows with the screwdrivers and brace and bit. And we bored holes in the bottom of the ships and the boats and they sunk overnight. So they had to be landed. We were successful in stopping a lot of boats — by one way or another."

During the ABC radio's September 3 Late Night Live program, compere Philip Adams spoke to Tony Kevin, who has closely followed the issue of the SIEV-X boat sinking. Adams asked Kevin: "When you first contacted me on the SIEV-X, you were very concerned about the strange way that the boat had virtually disintegrated, and you were suspicious that there may have been sabotage. Do you still hold that suspicion, and might it have been part of the disruption program?"

Kevin replied: "I no longer hold the suspicion, Philip. I'm convinced of it now. Unfortunately, when you've got an admitted strong relationship with people like Enniss, who are not only informants for AFP but also active people-smuggling disrupters for Indonesian police, by methods such as sending people out on false voyages, sabotaging engines, sinking boats, one is really 90% of the way to the SIEV-X scenario."

After Sunday's first program aired in February, the AFP conducted a $150,000 internal investigation into Enniss's activities. A press release issued on August 24 stated that all of Enniss' activities were consistent with his role as an informant. The AFP has made a formal complaint to the Australian Broadcasting Authority about the Sunday program.

From Green Left Weekly, September 18, 2002.

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