The Australian and Sri Lankan governments have worked together again to disrupt a people smuggling venture.
The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton said today a suspected illegal entry vessel (SIEV) carrying four Sri Lankan nationals was intercepted by Border Protection Command (BPC) North-West of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands on Monday February 9.
The four Sri Lankan nationals were transferred at sea from a vessel assigned to BPC to Sri Lankan authorities last Tuesday.
All persons intercepted were individually interviewed to determine whether they engaged Australia’s non-refoulement obligations under international law, as also practiced by the previous government.
The Interviews were conducted on board the vessel assigned to BPC by trained protection officers supported by independent, qualified interpreters.
These interviews informed decisions by senior officers of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.
All four Illegal Maritime Arrivals were found eligible for return, consistent with Australia’s non-refoulement obligations. All persons aboard the SIEV were safe and accounted for at all times and at no stage was the vessel in distress.
Mr Dutton said the Government was committed to stamping out the people smuggling trade in the region.
“By working closely with our regional partners we save lives at sea and prevent vulnerable people being lied to and ripped off by people smugglers.
“The Coalition Government’s policies and resolve are stopping illegal boat arrivals and are restoring integrity to Australia’s borders and immigration programme.
“Anyone attempting to enter Australia illegally by sea will never be resettled in this country,” Mr Dutton said.
Measures and safeguards are in place to enable Operation Sovereign Borders (OSB) actions and activities to be undertaken in a manner consistent with Australian domestic law and Australia’s obligations under international law.
The overriding priority for all agencies involved in OSB is the safety of all involved at all times. This includes potential illegal arrivals, crews, and Australian personnel.