Australia and Sri Lanka's enhanced cooperation on countering human trafficking

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A man sleeps next to railway tracks on a side of a road in Colombo October 24, 2014. Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is expected to soon seek a third six-year term, announced a 2015 budget on Friday that trims the value-added tax and reduces t
A man sleeps next to railway tracks on a side of a road in Colombo October 24, 2014. Reuters/Dinuka Liyanawatte

Australia and Sri Lanka have reinforced their cooperation on counter-people smuggling. Both countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that enables a closer partnership.

Department of Immigration and Border Protection Secretary Michael Pezzullo and Sri Lankan Secretary for Defence Kapila Mudantha Waidyaratne attended a ceremony in Canberra, where the MOU was signed. It is part of Australia’s approach to combating people smuggling.

The MOU will facilitate the return to Sri Lanka of people involved in people smuggling activities. It would lead to better information sharing on methods for locating, investigating and intercepting people smugglers. The agreement also means enhanced cooperation between the two nations when it comes to countering human trafficking. It seeks to stop the movement of illicit goods and will target money laundering and proceeds of crime.

Australia’s cooperative relationships with Sri Lanka and other international partners are perceived as a significant part of the nation’s approach to prevent people from risking their lives on illegal boat voyages to the country. Training and cooperation in both countries will provide officers from both agencies the opportunity to strengthen their skills across these areas and encourage closer working relationships.

Australia and Sri Lanka have a long history of successful cooperation on people smuggling and other transnational crimes. The latest agreement is a strong indication that this type of cooperation is set to continue.

Meanwhile, the Walkerston Bypass project is progressing well with community consultations underway to get feedback from local road users and affected landowners. Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said the bypass would lessen the number of vehicles utilising the existing route through the main street of Walkerston once completed. “This project, to be built about eight kilometres west of Mackay, is going to make a massive difference to local residents and heavy vehicle operators, by getting trucks out of the middle of town and giving them a more direct route into Mackay,” Chester said in a press release.

Steven Miles, acting Queensland minister for main roads, road safety and ports, confirmed that planning and design for the project had been progressing. “With funding secured for construction, we can now start engaging directly with affected property owners to discuss land requirements and associated land resumption issues early,” he said, adding that consultation with impacted property owners will begin soon and the community will receive regular project updates to guarantee that everyone is kept informed about this project for the region.

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