Australia welcomes Lankas support to combat people smuggling

“The visit highlighted Australia’s commitment to combating the dangerous trade of people smuggling” theHigh Commissioner said. During the visit Mr Vardos highlighted recent statements by Australia’s Minister for Immigration andCitizenship, the Hon Chris Bowen, that people arriving by boat are subject to the “no advantage” principlewhich could include being transferred offshore for processing or remaining in detention. “People who arrivein Australia by boat will have no work rights while they await their claims to be processed. They will not beable to earn money” he said.Mr Vardos warned those contemplating the dangerous journey to Australia by boat: “People smugglers arelying to you. Don’t waste your money, don’t risk your life. There is no visa on arrival. There will be nospecial treatment, no speedy outcome and certainly no advantage given to those who come by boat”. The Australian delegation was led by Peter Vardos, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Immigration andCitizenship, and included senior representatives from the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service,Australian Federal Police, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Attorney-General’s Department. Mr Vardos noted the commencement of transfers to Manus Island in Papua New Guinea with the firsttransfer on 21 November comprising of family groups who had arrived in Australia by boat. “Australia willcontinue to regularly transfer people who arrive by boat to Manus Island and the Pacific island nation ofNauru and will continue to return people where they do not engage Australia’s international obligations” hesaid.During the visit, the delegation met senior Sri Lankan officials including the Navy Commander, ViceAdmiral Jayanath Colombage, Inspector General of Police, N. K. Illangakoon, Secretary to the Ministry ofExternal Affairs, Mr Karunatilaka Amunugama, Solicitor General, Mr Wijetilleke, and Ministry of Defenceofficials.Discussions focused on joint cooperation between Australia and Sri Lanka to combat people smuggling andsteps to be taken to strengthen that cooperation, while also acknowledging the important contributions of SriLankan government agencies involved in combating people smuggling. The two nations’ officials alsodiscussed preparation for the forthcoming inaugural meeting of a Joint Working Group to address peoplesmuggling and border security issues. Australia today welcomed Sri Lanka’s continued cooperation to combat people smuggling following arecent visit to Sri Lanka by a high-level delegation of immigration and border security officials.Australia’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, H.E Robyn Mudie, said the visit on 22 to 23 November was ademonstration of the breadth and depth of Australia’s cooperation with Sri Lanka. The delegation also travelled to Trincomalee to meet with Navy officials and to visit an Australian-fundedDisplaced Persons Program (DPP) project which is supporting local community cooperatives in the dairysector to support livelihood development in Sri Lanka.

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