Sagala reveals Network of businessmen behind human smuggling

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By 2017-11-15

Minister of Law and Order Sagala Ratnayake has emphasized the need for strengthening the country's legal framework to counter migrant smuggling that is being carried out by 'a network of wealthy businessmen.'

Addressing the commencement of the second phase of the Project RELAY facilitated by the Interpol, the Minister said, the absence, or inadequacy, of legislation to address the issue means that smugglers of migrants can continue to operate, with little or no fear of being apprehended. He emphasized that a network operating along the coastal belt of the Western and North-Western Provinces involving 'wealthy businessmen' who mobilized their own boats and field agents with...... defined tasks, to carry out these operations, were behind the racket. "Western Sri Lanka has had a long history of making profits through migration.

" In the South, smaller groups or boat owners, contracted captains, crew and field agents to join together to facilitate people smuggling, he said. "It is more isolated and scattered compared to the more long-running better established networks on the Western Coast."

The Minister also said, the connection between Immigration officials and smugglers in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India led to dysfunctional immigration screening, allowing migrants to travel without any trouble despite having incomplete or fraudulent documents.

Minister Ratnayake said, that while strengthening Sri Lanka's defence apparatus and the law enforcement system, the Government is also working closely with its international partners on finding ways to counter the problem, in a sustainable manner. Minister Ratnayake says that human smuggling is attractive to criminals, who view migrants as simply one of the many commodities to be smuggled, as it is a highly lucrative illicit activity with a relatively low risk of detention.

He stated that studies into the situation in Sri Lanka have observed that the networks in the Western part of Sri Lanka are better organized and centralized compared to those in the Southern part.

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