Australia, Sri Lanka agree on four-point plan

Australia and Sri Lanka have agreed on a four-point plan to fight people smuggling, the Australian High Commission in Colombo said.

The High Commission said that Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr, who ended a trip to Sri Lanka today, announced that the plan is to be discussed with the Sri Lankan government and naval authorities.

The plan includes increased on-water co-operation, intelligence sharing and reducing incentives for smuggling ventures.

Senator Carr is in Colombo for the inaugural Joint Working Group on People Smuggling and Transnational Crime, chaired by Sri Lanka’s Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

“There is a message from these talks to people in Sri Lanka – by getting on that boat you risk your life, you’ll lose your money and you will be sent back home,” Senator Carr said.

“We’re setting a clear agenda for intelligence sharing, naval co-operation and helping rebuild Sri Lanka – all designed to reduce people smuggling. I welcome Sri Lanka’s strong support for anti-people smuggling activities, and look forward to increased co-operation in destroying the people smuggling
business model,” he added.

Australia and Sri Lanka are to focus on Information and intelligence sharing while Australia will provide additional surveillance and electronic equipment to expand Sri Lanka’s capacity to target smuggling operations and better identify vessel departure times and locations.

From 2013, a joint Australia- Sri Lanka training program is to be held in Australia to enhance Sri Lankan intelligence expertise.

Australia is also to fund campaigns in towns and villages identified as people smuggling hot spots, including word of mouth, radio, television and cinema advertising.

Senator Carr thanked his Sri Lankan counterparts for existing co-operation against people smuggling, which had seen 65 smuggling ventures involving 2,900 people disrupted this year, and the involuntary return of more than 700 Sri Lankan people-smuggling clients since August 2012. (Colombo Gazette)