Visiting Australian Immigration and Boarder Protection Minister Peter Dutton today said that there was a significant decline in human smuggling in Sri Lanka.
In response to a question by the media whether his government see a decline of illegal entry either from Sri Lanka and refugee camps in Tamil Nadu particularly since the regime change in Sri Lanka this year, Minister Dutton said that “the number has reduced significantly,”. However he observed that the change of government was a non issue for Australia but only a domestic issue for Sri Lanka.
Mr. Dutton also said that he received a very warm welcome from the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and “had a productive conversation with him.”
After meeting the PM Wickremesinghe together with few other ministers including Public Order and Christian Affairs Minister, John Amaratunga, State Minister of Defence, Ruwan Wijewardene and Resettlement, Reconstruction and Hindu Affairs Minister DM Swaminathan, Minister Dutton said that Sri Lanka had continued cooperation regarding people smuggling.
“Over 1200 people needlessly lost their lives through the cowardly and malicious actions of people smugglers between 2008 and 2013. Since we started turning back boats there have been no known deaths at sea,” Mr. Dutton said.
“Australia and Sri Lanka have and will continue to work closely together to detect, disrupt and return people-smuggling ventures and combat other transnational crimes. The relationship between Australia and Sri Lanka continues to go from strength to strength, and I am excited by the opportunities that will be available to our nations in the future through increased trade, investment, tourism and education.”( Susitha R. Fernando and Ajith Siriwardana )