The Foreign Ministry said that Sri Lanka is not a party to the allegations raised over the incident involving the boat with asylum seekers reportedly turned back by Australia recently and therefore, the question of any investigation does not arise.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mahishini Colonne said this in response to a question raised by the Colombo Gazette if Sri Lanka is investigating the alleged incident.
“As you know, the boat had not originated from Sri Lanka. What we understand is that most of the people concerned have been registered with UNHCR even before they set off on this journey. As you know, the journey originated in Indonesia itself and not in Sri Lanka. Whether Sri Lanka will take anyone back would depend on whether any one of them wants to return to Sri Lanka. It is a voluntary process which should be initiated by the individuals concerned. If someone expresses interest in returning to Sri Lanka, then the UNHCR/IOM officials would bring that to the attention of the Sri Lanka Mission in Jakarta. So far, from the information we have, no one has indicated any interest in returning to Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is not a party to the allegations. Therefore, the question of any investigation does not arise,” the Foreign Ministry spokesperson said.
Australia was accused recently of paying a bribe to human smugglers to turn an asylum boat away from Australia and towards Indonesia. Several Sri Lankans were said to be on the boat.
Australia and Sri Lanka have been working very closely to counter human smuggling and the Foreign Ministry said that new Government is continuing to work with all parties concerned on the human smuggling issue. (Colombo Gazette)