Sri Lanka Navy apprehended a local multi-day fishing trawler with 38 individuals, suspected to be on an illegal attempt to flee to a foreign country via the sea route. The suspects were arrested during a search operation conducted in the southeastern seas of the island on 11 June.
In the operation carried out in the seas off Okanda, Ampara on the afternoon of 11 June, the Navy intercepted a suspicious local multi-day fishing trawler carrying 38 persons, who were suspected to be attempting to illegally migrate to Australia. Among the apprehended individuals were 26 males including six involved in the racket, five females and seven children. Along with the suspects, the fishing vessel used for this act was also held by the Navy. Further inspections revealed that the multi-day trawler had an engine failure and was unsuitable for a long voyage.
The would be migrants are residents of Jaffna, Vavuniya, Valachchenai, Chilaw, Kalpitiya, Udappuwa, Ja-Ela and Negombo areas, aged from two to 60. They were handed over to the Panama Police.
The Australian Government repatriated groups of 12 Sri Lankans on 24 May and 15 on 9 June, after having foiled their illegal migration attempts to Australia by boat.
The Navy urged the public to avoid being produced before the law after being caught in the trap of smugglers who persuade the innocent to engage in illegal and perilous sea voyages to flee the island. The Australian government does not support such illegal immigrants, who are arrested and deported immediately. Once repatriated such illegal immigrants may not be eligible to obtain valid visa to Australia later, a spokesman said.