The government says no amount of action taken locally will bring about a lasting solution to the people smuggling issue, unless the international community comes together, to implement sustained and effective measures to prevent such activities.
Justice Minister Rauff Hakeem said that the effective deterrent action needs to be accompanied by adequate publicity to reach both the smugglers and the smuggled.
He said that sustained international cooperation is also important to prevent the relocation of the illegal operations elsewhere with less stringent in application of the law.
The Minister said this while in Indonesia to attend a summit on people smuggling, the Ministers media unit said.
He said that it is no secret that the criminal syndicates that operate people smuggling networks, utilise the provisions of the ‘Refugee Convention’ to the point of abuse, to obtain for those who are willing to pay their exorbitant fee, access to destination countries, by fraudulently claiming refugee status.
“As you may be aware, human smuggling and trafficking operations have long been a key revenue raiser for the LTTE. Though the LTTE is defeated militarily, the international operators of the LTTE are still in possession the massive resources they have accumulated from gun-running, people-smuggling and other illegal activities. Therefore the issue of irregular migration is a subset of a much larger problem of transnational crime that needs to be curbed with our collective efforts,” he said.
He said that Sri Lanka is a key stakeholder in fight against irregular movement of persons in the region. In addition Sri Lanka has signed repatriation arrangements with the European Union and also with number of other countries. The repatriation agreements which are intensely negotiated and agreed upon reflect the confidence the destination countries have reposed on Sri Lanka.
“It is my considered opinion that the best efforts made by the government of Sri Lanka and all other source and transit countries will be futile and ineffectual, in the absence of similar stringent measures being put in place by the destination countries,” he said.
The Minister said that a clear signal has to be sent to the operators of people smuggling business and to those still contemplating and willing to take the perilous journey across the sea, that they have nothing to gain by endangering their lives and using up their life savings, since there is high potential that their destination country may not meet their expectations. (Colombo Gazette)