The Joint Agency Task Force Operation Sovereign Borders is supporting the Sri Lankan Police to establish an aerial drone surveillance capability.
At a virtual ceremony on April 8, 2021, the Commander of the Joint Agency Task Force, along with the Australian Federal Police gifted the Sri Lankan Police five aerial drones to support crime fighting in Sri Lanka.
The media statement issued by the Australian High Commission further says:
The drones will be used in a wide range of activities including natural disaster scene assessment and recovery, transnational crime investigation and to counter maritime people smuggling.
Commander Joint Agency Task Force, Rear Admiral Mark Hill, said Australia values highly the cooperation of our international law enforcement partners in combating transnational crime.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Sri Lankan Police for their continued efforts to deter and disrupt illegal maritime people smuggling activities in Sri Lanka,” Rear Admiral Hill said.
“Working together, Australia and Sri Lanka send a strong message that people smugglers and potential illegal immigrants considering illegal travel to Australia by boat have zero chance of success.”
Sri Lanka Police, Inspector General of Police, C. D. Wickramaratne, said, “As Sri Lanka and Australia, geographically speaking, are regional neighbours. We value and treasure our coordination and friendship along with the numerous forms of support rendered to us by Government of Australia”.
“We have been honoured yet again by a lavish donation of sophisticated drone technology to the Sri Lanka Police Force. This donation has a vast scope of application in the field of traffic monitoring, search and rescue, surveillance, and operations relating to counter people smuggling, crime and environmental protection,” he also said.
AFP Senior Officer Sri Lanka, Rob Wilson said the new drones will be used in a range of ways to enhance the operational capabilities of Sri Lankan Police.
“These drones will provide a strong capability boost to help identify people smuggling ventures in otherwise hard to access areas, while also providing assistance for search and rescue operations, surveillance and crime scene observation,” Mr. Wilson said.
“We’re proud to have strong domestic and international partnerships that provide policing support to the region,” he also said.
The threat of maritime people smuggling continues as people smugglers find different ways to exploit vulnerable people. The partnership highlights the strength of Australia’s relationship with Sri Lanka, who has been a valuable partner in preventing and responding to maritime people smuggling.