The Government says that detention of irregular migrants is a step taken only as a measure of last resort and always for a very short time period in order to make necessary arrangements for their departure.
The Government was responding to a report by the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau.
In the report, François Crépeau notes some concerns about foreigners detained in Sri Lanka for violating their visas. He had also urged Sri Lanka to decriminalize irregular departures from Sri Lanka, as irregular migration should only be seen as an administrative offence.
In the report to the UN Human Rights Council which begins meeting in Geneva today, François Crépeau has also proposed that the Government refrain from detaining returned Sri Lankans who have migrated irregularly.
In a response sent ahead of today’s Geneva session, the Sri Lankan Government said that it is not the intention of the authorities to detain families and children at any point, but under certain exceptional circumstances, authorities are compelled to keep them in approved places to ensure their security and safety until their repatriation.
“All possible alternatives have been explored prior to such steps being taken,” the Government said.
The Government also said that all cases of detention are individually assessed to establish nationality, reasons for violating immigration regulations etc, in order to liaise with foreign missions, IOM, families of the detainees to facilitate early departure.
Foreigners who are found violating Immigration regulations are immediately removed from the country if there is a valid passport and a return air ticket in their possession.
In the event the persons concerned do not have the required documentation/tickets/finances, authorities are compelled to house them in the Mirihana Immigration Detention Centre, until suitable arrangements for deportation are made.
During this period, authorities make every possible effort to obtain valid travel documents for these persons by liaising with the respective embassies expeditiously. (Colombo Gazette)