Mandatory sentences for people smuggler sentences to stay: Government

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The federal government says it will not scrap mandatory sentences for people smuggling offences, despite criticism from a Victorian County Court judge.

The federal government says mandatory sentences for people smugglers will remain, despite a judge saying the punishment is too severe for a former refugee who helped his family travel to Australia.

Lamis Hameed Alli Baighi, 36, has been jailed for five years with a non-parole period of three years, the mandatory terms for people smuggling offences.

Alli Baighi, a Kurd who fled Iran, admitted to police that he assisted at least five extended family members, who were later found to be genuine refugees, to come to Australia by boat in 2009.

Victorian County Court Judge Mark Dean said the sentence was longer than appropriate and "may give rise to injustice".

"I have to impose a sentence more severe than warranted in this case," Judge Dean said on Wednesday.

Attorney-General George Brandis said the federal government wanted to use mandatory sentences as a deterrent to stop people smugglers.

"Sentencing isn't merely a matter for courts and judges, it's also a matter for parliaments," he told reporters in Melbourne.

"This government will not be lightening the sentence on people smugglers."

Opposition immigration spokesman Richard Marles said the sentencing regime should give judges more discretion.

"There is an inflexibility that is brought into play as soon as you talk about mandatory sentencing," he said.

Source AAP

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