Thursday, 07 May 2015
Media release

Visit to Sri Lanka strengthens ties

Australia and Sri Lanka have reaffirmed their commitment to stopping people smuggling through a series of meetings in Sri Lanka this week.

The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton, Commander of the Joint Agency Task Force Major General Andrew Bottrell CSC and Bar, DSM, and Deputy Chief Executive Officer Australian Customs and Border Protection Service Michael Outram met the Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Minister of Public Order and Christian Affairs Hon. John Amaratunga, State Minister of Defence Hon. Ruwan Wijewardene, Minister of Resettlement, Reconstruction and Hindu Affairs, Hon. DM Swaminathan and other key figures during the visit.

Mr Dutton said the purpose of the trip was to meet with members of the Sri Lankan Government and thank them for their continued cooperation regarding people smuggling and to further strengthen ties between our two countries.

“Over 1200 people needlessly lost their lives through the cowardly and malicious actions of people smugglers between 2008 and 2013. Since we started turning back boats there have been no known deaths at sea,” Mr Dutton said.

“In the long list of OSB successes, to me, this is the greatest accomplishment and one which could not have been achieved without the support of Sri Lanka and our other regional partners.

“Australia and Sri Lanka have and will continue to work closely together to detect, disrupt and return people-smuggling ventures and combat other transnational crimes.

“The relationship between Australia and Sri Lanka continues to go from strength to strength, and I am excited by the opportunities that will be available to our nations in the future through increased trade, investment, tourism and education.”

Mr Dutton said it was important to emphasise Australia’s support for the ongoing process of reconciliation in Sri Lanka.

“The Sri Lankan Government’s commitment to advancing democratic reforms, improving human rights and pursuing reconciliation is fundamental for Sri Lanka’s long-term stability and prosperity,” Mr Dutton said.

​“I am pleased to say I have witnessed constructive engagement in this area and I am optimistic about the prospects for real progress on these issues in the coming months and years.”​