Sri Lanka seeks to regulate 
repatriation of illegal migrants

COLOMBO — The Sri Lanka government is working on forming a national committee to ensure readmission of illegal migrants living abroad in the wake of increased number of asylum seekers illegally leaving the island’s shores.

By Qadijah Irshad

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Published: Sun 22 Jul 2012, 10:17 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 11:33 AM

With over 200 failed asylum seekers apprehended by the police and navy in the past 10 days alone, the government has sanctioned the National Coordinating Committee on Re-admission (NCCR) proposed by the External Affairs Minister, G. L. Peiris.

“Sri Lanka has a re-admission bilateral agreement with the European Union to regulate and repatriate Sri Lankan asylum seekers who are residing in various countries illegally, and is entering into several bilateral agreements with member countries to formalise them,” said Sarath Dissanayake, director of the External Affairs Ministry.

Sri Lanka entered into an agreement with the European Community in 2004, signing the “Readmission of Persons Residing without Authorisation.”

According to this, any Sri Lankan found guilty of illegally residing in a foreign country will be deported back to Sri Lanka.

On a local level, the National Coordinating Committee on Re-admission will make a concerted effort to end human smuggling, announced the government spokesperson Keheliya Rambukwella.

According to the government, the police has already begun to pursue the organised human smuggling networks active in Sri Lanka.

Human smuggling and illegal migration via sea to the developed nations has seen a sharp increase since sea routes were cleared of battle after the end of the country’s three decade war in 2009. Despite arrangements being made to repatriate the predominantly ethnic Tamil asylum seekers back to Sri Lanka, repatriation efforts were temporarily suspended after a human rights breach resolution was passed by United Nation Human Rights Council in Geneva in March.

However, last month Swiss authorities decided to repatriate 2,000 Sri Lankan asylum seekers living in Switzerland, while the UK deported 36 asylum seekers to Sri Lanka citing there were no human rights concerns in the country.

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