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People smuggling cooperation with Sri Lanka

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Australia will gift two retired Australian Bay Class patrol boats to assist Sri Lanka’s efforts in combatting people smuggling operations.

The patrol boats are agile and with a range, speed and boarding capability that mean they will be well-suited to enhancing the Sri Lankan Navy’s efforts to disrupt people smuggling ventures.

Australia is providing training with the patrol boats, which will operate alongside the Sri Lankan Navy’s existing capability to intercept people smuggling efforts originating in Sri Lankan waters.

Our cooperation with Sri Lanka in the region is important as it is effective. Sri Lanka provides strong support against people smuggling operations and Australian agencies work closely with their Sri Lankan counterparts. Only 14 boats have travelled directly from Sri Lanka to Australia in 2013 compared to 120 boats in 2012.

Cooperation with Sri Lankan authorities to counter people smuggling and disruption operations has been well-coordinated and highly effective, with at least 12 on-water interceptions by the Sri Lankan Navy in 2013.

Australia appreciates its strong cooperative relationship with Sri Lanka in countering people smuggling. We cooperate closely through the bilateral Australia-Sri Lanka Joint Working Group on People Smuggling and Transnational Crime and through the regional Bali Process.

The Sri Lankan government has provided strong support for Australia’s strategic communication campaign. The Sri Lankan government has effectively got the message out in people smuggling hotspots throughout Sri Lanka that illegal entry by boat will never lead to resettlement in Australia.

The central message of Operation Sovereign Borders is that illegal maritime arrivals will not be settled in Australia. There is no point in attempting to reach Australia by boat.

17 November 2013