Oct 18, 2019

Australia and Sri Lanka discuss combating human smuggling

Australia has reiterated to Sri Lanka the need to maintain the momentum to combat human smuggling.

The Sixth Meeting of Australia-Sri Lanka Joint Working Group(JWG) on Counter People Smuggling and other Transnational Crime was successfully concluded in Canberra, the Foreign Ministry said today.

The meeting was held under the co–chairmanship of Secretary Ministry of Defence, Sri Lanka General S.H.S. Kottegoda (Rtd.) and Acting Deputy Secretary, Policy Group, Department of Home Affairs, Australia Hamish Hansford.

Making his opening remarks, the Defence Secretary said that Sri Lanka considers the JWG as an important platform where both parties have been able to resolve many issues of concern with regard to people smuggling and transnational crimes and continues to do so.

He stated that Sri Lanka and Australia have come a long way and commended the Government of Australia for the assistance extended to Sri Lanka in many areas inclusive of legislative and law enforcement, intelligence gathering, vessels monitoring, sharing of information in the concerned areas.

He further stressed that while continuing the discussion on strengthening the relationship with regard to countering people smuggling, it is time to consider a stronger security framework to counter terrorism and prevent violent extremism. He further suggested that intelligence cooperation and information sharing are priority areas to advance common security objectives providing transparency and building confidence in the Indian Ocean.

Addressing the meeting the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in Canberra J. C. Weliamuna, highlighted the importance of the continuation of the JWG as the principal forum to address the people smuggling and human trafficking, the subject matters which are mutually important to both countries. High Commissioner expressed his appreciation for the Government of Australia for hosting the Sri Lankan delegation attending the sixth JWG. He further stressed that the dialogue between Sri Lanka and Australia is a viable platform to share knowledge and experiences including best practices and views in addressing the scourge of people smuggling and transnational crime ventures.

Making the opening remarks, Hamish Hansford highlighted the strong bilateral relations that exist between the two countries and thanked Sri Lanka for its support and partnership in combatting people smuggling and transnational border crimes.

The Australian side further reiterated that the momentum should be maintained with regard to combatting human smuggling activities and both sides should be in constant engagement in areas of necessary cooperation.

The deliberations between the two parties concluded successfully and a Memorandum of Understanding(MoU) on Return and Readmission of Persons is scheduled to be signed between the two countries in the near future.

Secretary Defence, informed that Sri Lanka is ready to host the Seventh JWG in Colombo in 2020.

(Colombo Gazette)