Human smugglers were able to send their clients abroad without any restrain because of the nexus between corrupt migration officials in Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh, Law and Order Minister Sagala Ratnayake said today.
Addressing the commencement of the the second phase of the Project RELAY facilitated by Interpol, Minister said the need for strengthening the country's legal framework to counter human smuggling.
The project was launched by Interpol to deliver training to law enforcement officers, investigators and front-line border units against smuggling.
He said migrants continue their travel without fear of being apprehended, because of the absence or inadequacy of legislation to address the issue.
He said documents such as passports or birth certificates, can be produced by bribing Government officials in this part of the world – particularly in South Asia.
“There have been instances where it was reported that the officers of the Sri Lankan law enforcement system accepted bribes from agents in exchange for allowing their vessels to cross maritime borders.
“We, as a Government, have adopted various measures to counter migrant smuggling in Sri Lanka. While strengthening our defence apparatus and the law enforcement system, we also work closely with our international partners on finding ways to counter this problem in a sustainable manner,” the Minister said.
He said that Sri Lanka had entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Australia to counter human smuggling, enabling even closer cooperation between the two countries in this regard.
“The MoU is aimed at facilitating the return to Sri Lanka of people who entered Australia illegally. It also paves the way for enhanced information sharing on methods of tracking, intercepting and investigating people smugglers.
“We are in the process of introducing necessary revisions and changes, having understood the gravity and the social impact of the problem,” the Minister said.