Seventeen migrants from South Asia were back in Indonesia after their boat was pushed back by the Australian navy while en route to Christmas Island, an official said Friday.
The migrants were being questioned at the immigration office in Kupang, the capital of East Nusatenggara province, after arriving on Thursday, said immigration spokesman Heru Santoso.
Deputy Foreign Minister Muhammad Fachir criticized Australia’s decision to send the migrants back without Indonesia being notified.
“Unilateral action is clearly not in line with the spirit of cooperation between the two countries,” Fachir said, according to Metro TV online.
“It’s a long-standing issue and there needs to be a common perception about it,” he said.
Indonesia has for years become a transit point for migrants attempting to reach Australia illegally by boat.
Australian officials have been accused of paying boat operators carrying asylum seekers to turn around and take the people to Indonesia instead of Australia or New Zealand.