From Sri Lankan newspaper “The Island” comes this story, by Shamindra Ferdinando, April 26, 2014.
The Australian government is working closely with Sri Lanka to expel a group of bogus Sri Lanka refugees in accordance with an ongoing project meant to ensure what Australian Immigration and Border Protection Minister Scott Morrison called a serious border protection regime.
Australia launched ‘Operation Sovereign Borders’, an unprecedented military-led initiative to discourage those trying to secure refugee status through illegal means.
Minister Morrison emphasized Australia’s determination to extradite even those who had entered the country illegally during the previous administration, when he addressed the second Australia-Sri Lanka Joint Working Group on people-smuggling and transnational crime at Hyatt Hotel, Canberra last Tuesday (April 22).
The Sri Lankan delegation was led by Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.
Minister Morrison insisted that those illegals who had transited through other countries to reach Australia wouldn’t be accepted under any circumstances. The minister declared: “Ensuring prompt removal of those who have no lawful basis to be here, is a critical component of any serious border protection regime.”
The first Australia-Sri Lanka JWG met in Colombo in August 2012.
The government of Sri Lanka earned the appreciation of Minister Morrison on behalf of Australia for its successful efforts to curb human smuggling as well as facilitating the extradition of those deprived of refugee status.
Morrison was speaking two days before a Bay Class patrol vessel gifted by Australia was brought to the port of Colombo by an SLN crew. The vessel reached Colombo on the morning of April 24. The SLN will take delivery of a second Australian vessel in June.
Having returned from Australia, Defence Secretary Rajapaksa said that the ongoing operation meant to protect Australian borders had greatly strengthened bilateral relationship between the two countries. During his brief stay in Canberra early this week, Defence Secretary Rajapaksa had the opportunity to meet several senior politicians and officials. Defence Secretary Rajapaksa said that Minister Morrison in his address at the Hyatt explained the status of the ongoing operation and the need to further expand bilateral relations. The Defence Secretary quoted Minister Morrison as having said that cooperation on human smuggling operation would pave the way for trade as well as commercial opportunities,
Minister Morrison and Defence Secretary Rajapaksa last week met at a security conference in Malaysia.
Morrison called for tougher and coordinated action against organised criminal networks to prevent them from exploiting rapid advances in communications, transport, technology et al to engage in clandestine operations.
In line with the Australian government’s policy of backing countries working closely with it, Prime Minister Abbott announced gifting of two Bay Class patrol vessels each to Sri Lanka and Malaysia.
Defence Secretary Rajapaksa said that Australia had facilitated a workshop for 39 magistrates in May-June last year under its overall plan to strengthen Sri Lanka’s capacity to tackle the problem. Rajapaksa said that the ongoing operation had succeeded in crippling human smuggling operatives. He described the operation as one of the most successful actions undertaken against human smuggling.
Minister Morrison had pointed out that there hadn’t been a successful human smuggling operation during the past four months. During the previous year the situation had been so bad there were 100 smuggling operations resulting in the arrival of 6,000 illegals during January-April period.