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People smuggling legislation

Australia's legislative framework criminalising people smuggling is set out in the Migration Act 1958 for people smuggling ventures entering Australia and the Criminal Code Act 1995 for other ventures.

The Migration Act and Criminal Code were amended by the Anti-People Smuggling and Other Measures Act 2010, which came into force on 1 June 2010. The Anti-People Smuggling and Other Measures Act brought in line the anti-people smuggling offences in the Migration Act and Criminal Code, and introduced a new offence in both acts of supporting people smuggling.

The legislation makes it an offence for a person (the first person) to organise or facilitate the bringing or coming to Australia, or the entry or proposed entry into Australia, of another person (the second person), where that second person is a non-citizen of Australia, and where the second person had, or has, no lawful right to come to Australia.

Australian legislation also includes offences for concealing and harbouring non-citizens, and for providing false documents or false or misleading information relating to a non‑citizen.

In addition, there are a number of aggravated people smuggling offences. These are offences that involve either:

  • people smuggling ventures which involve a danger of death or serious harm
  • the smuggling of five or more persons to Australia
  • repeat offending
  • providing false documents or false or misleading information relating to five or more non-citizens.

Aggravated offences have a greater maximum sentence to their ordinary offence, and carry a mandatory minimum sentence.

There is also an offence for supporting the offence of people smuggling if the person (first person) provides material support or resources to another person or an organisation (the receiver), and the support or resources aids the receiver, or a person or organisation other than the receiver, to engage in conduct constituting the offence of people smuggling.