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* Sri Lankan fishermen say key Australian tool to combat people smuggling can be dodged
Thu, Sep 22, 2022, 09:06 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Sept 22 (ABC) A key Australian government tool to combat people smuggling in Sri Lanka can be easily dodged by perpetrators and is forcing fishermen struggling in the country’s economic crisis to pay a monthly fee.

Official sources have also told the ABC they are investigating the brother of a Sri Lankan government MP over allegations of people smuggling to Australia.

The revelations paint a picture of the ineffective measures put forward by the Australian government to fix the issue, according to experts.

More than 1,000 Sri Lankan people have tried to get to Australia by boat this year, many paying thousands of dollars to people smugglers to make the weeks-long journey in rough seas on fishing trawlers.

June 2022 saw the highest number of illegal boat interceptions by Australian Border Force since 2013. All were from Sri Lanka.

The stark increase is in large part due to Sri Lanka’s economic crisis, which has cut off basic services to millions of people.

Following the ABC’s reporting on the new wave of Sri Lankan asylum seekers in June, Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil visited Colombo, donating resources to authorities in the country to "counter people smuggling".

The Australian government gave 4,200 GPS trackers to the Sri Lankan government to surveil fishing trawlers, the boats used by people smugglers.

But fishermen have told the ABC the trackers, called vessel monitoring systems (VMS), can be removed.

Official sources have also told the ABC they are investigating the brother of a Sri Lankan government MP over allegations of people smuggling to Australia.

The revelations paint a picture of the ineffective measures put forward by the Australian government to fix the issue, according to experts.

More than 1,000 Sri Lankan people have tried to get to Australia by boat this year, many paying thousands of dollars to people smugglers to make the weeks-long journey in rough seas on fishing trawlers.

June 2022 saw the highest number of illegal boat interceptions by Australian Border Force since 2013. All were from Sri Lanka.

The stark increase is in large part due to Sri Lanka’s economic crisis, which has cut off basic services to millions of people.

Following the ABC’s reporting on the new wave of Sri Lankan asylum seekers in June, Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil visited Colombo, donating resources to authorities in the country to "counter people smuggling".

The Australian government gave 4,200 GPS trackers to the Sri Lankan government to surveil fishing trawlers, the boats used by people smugglers. But fishermen have told the ABC the trackers, called vessel monitoring systems (VMS), can be removed.

Read More:: ABC (Source)