Rise in illegal migrants from SL to Australia

By Buddhika Samaraweera


Noting that there has been an increase in the number of persons trying to immigrate to Australia from Sri Lanka illegally, the Police stated that a total of 399 such persons have been arrested by the Police and the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) during the past few months. 

Speaking to the media yesterday (26), Police Media Spokesman, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) and Attorney-at-Law (AAL) Nihal Thalduwa said: “There has been an increase in the number of people trying to enter Australia illegally. The SLN and Police have arrested 399 persons who attempted to immigrate illegally in this manner from January 2022 to date. Legal action has been taken against them and judicial action will also be initiated.”

He urged the public to not attempt to immigrate to Australia in such a manner, noting that Australia, which is constantly on the lookout for illegal immigrants, would not allow such groups to enter or stay in Australia for any reason. He also said that legal action had been taken against 91 such persons deported to Sri Lanka by the Australian Government.

“As soon as the illegal immigrants are arrested, the Australian Government will deport them back to Sri Lanka. They would then be arrested at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) in Katunayake. Thereafter, legal action would be taken against them, and if convicted in the relevant court proceedings, such persons would be fined not less than Rs. 50,000 and not more than Rs. 200,000 or imprisoned for not less than six months and not more than five years.”

Speaking further, Thalduwa said that information has been received that smugglers who smuggle people to Australia in this manner charge between Rs. 200,000 and Rs. 1,000,000. He further said that the Police had received information that boats that had been abandoned due to dilapidation are being repaired and used by smugglers for this purpose.

“It has been reported that a large number of people are being loaded onto boats exceeding their capacity. It takes approximately 14 days for a journey like this and it is very risky. There have also been reports of women and children being abused while travelling in boats in this manner. Therefore, we urge the people to not fall prey to these scams.”

Thalduwa also said that legal action would be taken against smugglers under the Immigration and Emigration Act (as amended), adding they could be imprisoned for not less than a year and not more than five years if convicted through the relevant judicial processes. Therefore, he requested the public to inform the Police if they have any information regarding smugglers. 

Illegal immigration to Australia is defined by the Migration Act 1958, which distinguishes between lawful non-citizens (those in Australia holding a valid visa) and unlawful non-citizens (those without a valid visa). Immigration to Australia is administered by the Department of Home Affairs, formerly the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, and before that, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.