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Friday, November 23, 2012 - 5.23 GMT

Australia lauds SL Navy role in combating human smuggling


Australia yesterday said the Sri Lanka Navy played a pivotal role in combating human smuggling to Australia by boats.

Australian Immigration and Citizenship Department Deputy Secretary Peter Vardos said Sri Lanka cooperated with Australia in combating this menace effectively.

Speaking at a press conference in Colombo, a day after Australia repatriated 100 Sri Lankans who arrived in the country by boats, Vardos said the Sri Lanka Navy succeeded in arresting over 3,000 illegal migrants on boats bound for Australia.

He said the Sri Lanka Navy succeeded in foiling many attempts of human smugglers to send over 3,000 Sri Lankans to Australia by boats risking their lives.

Vardos said people arriving by boat to Australia will not have employment rights until their claims are processed.

"Processing of their claims will take time and the country started transferring illegal immigrants to Australia made up of entirely family groups to Maus Island in Papua New Guinea. They will have minimal subsistence while they are in the community and they would be asked to be repatriated to their country of origin. The prospect of earning money while their claims are being processed is not going to happen," Vardos said.

People coming to Australia by boat might have to be in detention centres up to five years until the entire process is finalised, he said.

Border Protection Command Commander Rear Admiral David Johnston said there are over 9,000 illegal immigrants in detention centres in Australia. He said they would be sent to regional processing centres in either Nauru or Papua New Guinea.

Meanwhile, Australia has deported yesterday another group of 40 Sri Lankan men who had arrived recently from a number of different boats.

It is the tenth involuntary removal this month and with today's removal, Australia has sent 466 Sri Lankan migrants home since August 13.

People returned involuntarily do not have access to reintegration assistance.

Under Australia's new immigration policies all illegal migrants arriving after August 13will be sent to offshore detection facilities in Nauru and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea for processing which is expected to take up years.

Since August 13, more than 570 Sri Lankans have returned home - both voluntarily and involuntarily.

"People who pay smugglers are risking their lives and throwing their money away. There is no visa on arrival, there is no speedy outcome, and there is no special treatment," Australian Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Chris Bowen said.

"We will continue to return people to Sri Lanka. We will continue to transfer people to Nauru, and Manus Island," the Minister said in a statement said.





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Last modified: November 23, 2012.

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