July 01, Colombo: The Sri Lankan government is considering to strengthen the Immigration and Emigration Act in a bid to prevent the country being used as a hub for illegal human smuggling activities.
Controller of Immigration and Emigration Chulananda Perera has told the state-run English weekly Sunday Observer that the government will take measures to bring in mew amendments to the Act that would allow the government to impose severe punishment to the offenders.
"The new amendments will have severe punishment for human smugglers and those who facilitate it. Though the present Immigration and Emigration Act has provision for human smuggling a new section will be introduced to deal with human trafficking and offences under the proposed amendments," he has said.
According to the official the proposed amendments to the Immigration and Emigration Act have already been approved by the Legal Draftsman's Department and referred to the Immigration and Emigration Department for its observations.
The government plans to present the proposed amendments in the parliament within the next two months, Perera has said.
A recently released US report on human trafficking said the Sri Lankan government's law enforcement response to human trafficking offenses was minimal and the government did not convict any human trafficking offenders during the last year.
The official has however, noted that the country's Navy and the police along with the Coast Guard Department have increased vigilance to curtail human smuggling activities.
The security forces have been efficient in thwarting several recent smuggling attempts and arresting the asylum seekers as well as the traffickers.
The US report suggested the Sri Lankan government to improve efforts to investigate and prosecute suspected trafficking offenses, and convict and punish trafficking offenders.