Immigration and Emigration Act to be strengthened
The government will introduce tough laws for human traffickers and organisers of boat trips and measures will be taken to forfeit their assets and will serve a jail term of up to 20 years instead of the present two.
Immigration and Emigration Chief Chulanada Perera said his department would strengthen the Immigration and Emigrations Amendment Act of 2006 in an effort to end human trafficking in Sri Lanka.
He said human trafficking would be made a non-bailable offence.
Amendments have been drafted based on a report submitted by a committee comprising officials from the Foreign Affairs Ministry and Attorney General’s Department.
“We have to take a sympathetic view on the victims and will not to increase the existing prison term of three months where they are concerned. But we have proposed maximum possible punishment to those who have made human smuggling a business while risking the lives of thousands of unsuspecting victims,” Immigration and Emigration Chief said.
He said it was necessary to obtain the cooperation of countries such as Australia, Canada, the US and those in the European Union because these were the most likely destinations of a majority of illegal emigrants.
“Our efforts to put an end to human smuggling will not be a success just by introducing stringent regulations if countries of destinations do not cooperate with us.
They too must reject outright all illegal immigrants to their countries and laws must be introduced to discourage them,” he added.
Some 1,000 Sri Lankans are among nearly 6,000 asylum seekers held in detention camps in Australia, which is an attractive destination for illegal emigrants from Sri Lanka.
Meanwhile, the “Q” Branch of the Tamil Nadu Police foiled an attempt by 28 Sri Lankan Tamil refugees to cross over to Australia illegally from the Cuddalore Port area on Tuesday.
The refugees were promised of lucrative jobs in Australia and safe passage to the country for a payment of Rs 1 lakh per head, the police said.
Courtesy : Department of Government Information