Australian High Commission
Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
Also accredited to the Republic of Maldives

121218_MR_JWG

Australian High Commission
Colombo

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MEDIA RELEASE

18 December 2012

Sri Lanka-Australia Joint Working Group on People Smuggling and Transnational Crime

Australia and Sri Lanka today reaffirmed their commitment to continue to work together following senior level discussions under the umbrella of the Joint Working Group (JWG) on People Smuggling and Transnational Crime.

Opened by the Australian Minster for Foreign Affairs Senator Bob Carr and Sri Lankan Minister of External Affairs the Honourable Professor G L Peiris, the inaugural Joint Working Group met on 17 December. Leader of the Australian delegation, the Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Martin Bowles, and the Sri Lankan Secretary of Defence, Gotabaya Rajapaksa in introductory presentations, highlighted the strong co-operation between both countries with the aim of breaking the people smuggling model.

“The JWG covers issues which sit highly on both governments’ agendas and our discussions will enable both nations to further enhance the existing close co-operation between us,” Mr Bowles said.

Discussions focused on joint cooperation to combat people smuggling and transnational crime including enhancing measures already underway by the Australian Government which have seen more than 800 people returned to Sri Lanka when international obligations have not been engaged.

“Arrival of Sri Lankan nationals into Australia through dangerous people smuggling ventures has spiked,” Mr Bowles said.

“The number could have been higher if not for the very effective work of the Sri Lankan Navy intercepting departures from Sri Lanka.

“Australia is grateful also for the continued assistance being provided by the Sri Lankan Department of Immigration and Emigration to smoothly facilitate return of those Sri Lankans who have not engaged our international obligations.

“Sri Lankans who are duped by people smugglers need to understand there are no job opportunities in Australia; they will either be returned to Sri Lanka or transferred to a regional processing centre in Nauru or on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea,” he added.

The Sri Lankan senior officials who participated in the JWG included representation from, among a variety of agencies, the Ministry of Defence, Department of Immigration and Emigration, Department of Coast Guard, Police, and Navy.

The Australian delegation included senior representatives from the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, Australian Federal Police, Attorney-General’s Department and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Further information: Australian High Commission, Colombo T: (94 11) 246 3200