Australia has now revamped its border protection procedures and there is ‘zero chance’ of any illegal migrants gaining entry in the country, visiting Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said yesterday. He also disclosed that Australia is assisting Sri Lankan authorities in the investigations into the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks in terms of forensic analysis,
At a press conference at Australia House in Colombo yesterday, the Minister said that Australia, too, is concerned about foreign fighters returning from Syria and Iraq. He said Australia closely cooperates with other regional countries to share intelligence information with regard to them. “Following the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks, Australia quickly offered support to Sri Lanka demonstrating the close relationship between the two countries,” he said. The press conference was organized to announce that the Operation Sovereign Borders has been re-vamped.
The Minister said that Australia remains committed to working together with Sri Lanka to stamp out the practice of people smuggling and prevent people from risking their lives on dangerous and illegal oceanic boat voyages. “Australia’s strong borders remain.The election has not changed Australia’s tough border laws. All illegal boats will be stopped and turned back. Do not listen to people smugglers if they tell you Australia’s borders are open.You are welcome to Australia by plane, but not illegally by boat.All illegal travellers will be banned for life. You will also lose the money paid to people smugglers,” he stressed.
He said 20 illegal migrants to Australia travelling in a people smuggling boat were caught and returned on May 29. The Australian authorities had intercepted the boat near Cocos Islands. Navy Commander Piyal de Silva said the Sri Lanka Navy had intercepted another boat, which was heading to Australia carrying 41 people, about 1,340 km off the Galle coast on May 23. “Every people smuggling boat that has attempted to reach Australia in the last five years has failed. You have zero chance of illegal migration to Australia. Australia maintains close relations with the Sri Lanka Coast Guard and Sri Lanka Navy to prevent human smuggling,” Minister Dutton said.
Explaining ‘Operation Sovereign Borders’ (OSB), Major General Craig Furini commended the “excellent cooperation” from Sri Lanka to prevent human smuggling. He explained that the OSB was a military-led operation carried out with 16 agencies involved in border protection and assistance of regional stakeholders.