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Alleged people smugglers are victims: lawyers
Indonesia remains concerned about the hundreds of its citizens, many of them teenagers, in Australian jails facing people smuggling charges, reports Helen Brown.

Australia's divisive political debate over the stream of asylum seekers heading for its shores has taken yet another turn in the past week.

In a huge about face, the Gillard Government has returned to offshore processing of asylum seekers on Nauru and in Papua New Guinea.

An expert panel also declared there could be circumstances under which boats could be turned back to Indonesia, a recommendation rejected by the Government and opposed by Jakarta.

Indonesia also remains concerned about the hundreds of its citizens, many of them teenagers, in Australian jails facing people smuggling charges.

Indonesia correspondent Helen Brown reports.
Transcript
HELEN BROWN, REPORTER: Perch on the waterís edge on Indonesia's Sulawesi Island lies one of many small fishing villages. Itís an idyllic but impoverished hamlet where people go about the daily task of survival. But this place has also become part of something bigger. Itís one of the hundreds of villages feeling the impact of Australia's justice system.

Edwina Lloyd has taken on the case of an Indonesian fisherman accused of smuggling. And the lawyer has travelled to her client's village to collect evidence and meet with his wife.

Edwina Lloyd's client has spent 18 months in a maximum security jail.

EDWINA LLOYD, LAWYER (to Mrs Suchi): We're fighting very hard for him come home.

TRANSLATOR (subtitle translation): How are you feeling now?

MRS SUCHI, WIFE (subtitle translation): Iím still in grief.

HELEN BROWN: Mrs Suchi last saw her husband when he said he had to go to another place to work on a fishing boat.

Edwina Lloyd says her client had no way of knowing what he was about to get into when offered $500 to move some people by boat from one island to another. And that keeping him locked up is not only misplaced justice, but is severely hurting his extended family.

EDWINA LLYOD (to Mrs Suchi): Are you eating enough food?

TRANSLATOR (subtitle translation): Howís your daily food? Enough?

MRS SUCHI (subtitle translation): Daily food? Not enough.

HELEN BROWN: Edwina Lloyd's visit has created a ripple of intrigue and some hope that the man languishing in a jail far away might soon be home.

The family is bewildered by his absence and the charges against him.

RUMING, OLDER SISTER (translation): Itís hard when he's not around. He's like my parents. He's my little brother but I look up to him.

HELEN BROWN: This trip requires one particularly difficult task. Mrs Suchi is taking Edwina Lloyd to visit the grave site of her and her husband's only son.

The father never held the child who died at the age of one from chicken pox. The family says it didn't have the money to take the baby boy to hospital 20 kilometres away. And the mother has had to bury their son by herself. She has a simple message for Edwina Lloyd to give to her husband.

MRS SUCHI (subtitle translation): For him to come home soon as his children miss him, including their mother. (Cries)

TRANSLATOR (subtitle translation): Can you tell us of your life now. Do you cry everyday?

MRS SUCHI (subtitle translation): Yes everyday. Every time I remember him.

TRANSLATOR (subtitle translation): What do you do then?

MRS SUCHI (subtitle translation): I cry. (Wipes away tears)

HELEN BROWN: Back in the village Edwina Lloyd takes more photos to document the circumstances her client has come from.

EDWINA LLOYD: All that area is you can smell the sewerage. That's where they all go. None of them have toilet inside their house. They all just use the outside area here, the back of the houses, it looks to be.

Members of the Australian public would have no idea that people live like this. And the Indonesian crew that are caught up in the people smuggling net are people who come from places like this.

HERMAN, VILLAGE CHIEF (translation): I am very sad that it happened like that to him. My hope is for Australia to help return the member of my village.

HELEN BROWN: There are villages like this dotted right across the 17,000 islands that make up Indonesia. And Edwina Lloyd says people smugglers are tracking further to find communities that have no idea about politics or the law.

It took us four hours to get here on a road that consistently got worse. It was not an easy drive. But it gives you some idea of what the people smuggling syndicates are willing to do to find the people they need.

(Footage of Edwina Lloyd taking photos in village)

At the end of a long day, the lawyer feels she's got what she came for.

EDWINA LLYOD: It's been an exhausting day. It takes an emotional toll on you coming to the villages and seeing how people live and what they put up with.

And you know, you get a great sense of humility, but I'm very grateful for what I've got after coming here today. But itís lovely to meet the villagers, it's very, very sad. I've got many photos that I needed to get today and I think my job is done.

HELEN BROWN: A job that she hopes will allow an Indonesian fisherman to return to the only life he's known.
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