International authorities, with the assistance of Australia, have “disrupted” at least 10 alleged attempts to transport almost 300 asylum seekers to Australia by boat in the past 14 months, documents obtained under freedom of information reveal.
The documents, from the federal home affairs department, record the number of “foreign law enforcement agency” (Flea) disruptions since 2013.
Flea disruptions were set up as one of three components of the Abbott government’s border policy – alongside boat turnbacks and offshore detention and processing.
Since the establishment of the new policy there have been 78 disruption operations involving 2,525 “potential illegal immigrants” – the terms used in the documents referencing suspected passengers.
In the year to August there were 10 disruptions involving 297 people, the majority occurring in Indonesia but also in Sri Lanka and Malaysia.
Flea disruptions are operated by a multi-agency taskforce led by Australian federal police and reporting to the head of Australia’s border enforcement operation, air vice marshal Stephen Osborne, and seek to prevent vessels carrying asylum seekers from leaving international ports including Indonesia.