Torres Strait: policing the open border


In recent years much has been discussed about trafficking in drugs and guns across the Torres Strait. Attention has focussed on the Strait as a result of the detention of third country illegal immigrants in the region. However, few Australians know much about the Strait and the people who live there, so it is not surprising that some of the commentary about problems in the area is ill-informed or exaggerated. In an attempt to obtain a better understanding of these issues, the Australian Institute of Criminology was pleased to be involved, on 24 February 1998, in a seminar, jointly sponsored by the Australian Defence Studies Centre and the Australian Federal Police, entitled “Torres Strait Policing the Open Border”. This Trends and Issues paper provides an overview of the outcome of the seminar, including some of the practical issues raised in discussion on what, in her opening address, the Minister for Justice described as “one of the most exposed parts of Australia”, but one which is “of growing importance from the law enforcement perspective, not only in relation to cross border crime, but also the regulation of our immigration, quarantine, fisheries and other high priority national interests.”