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Foreign Ministry in touch with Malaysian authorities

The Sri Lankan High Commission in Malaysia is closely working with relevant Malaysian authorities over the detention of 131 Sri Lankans, when Police intercepted a modified ship in the Johor waters believed to be bound for Australia and New Zealand.

Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Malaysia A.J.M. Muzammil told the Daily News yesterday that he had assigned a team of officials from the High Commission to look into the matter and interests of the detained Lankans.

Muzammil said he was planning to speak with the Chief of Police in Malaysia today with regards to the incident. Further action will be taken on the instructions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Sri Lanka,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a media communiqué said the Royal Malaysian Police Special Branch has confirmed that 131 persons, believed to be Sri Lankans were detained at Tanjung Gamoh, Sedili in Johor Baru on May 1,2018.

“Out of the 131 persons, 127 have been arrested under the Immigration Act 1959/63. They are presently detained at Pekan Nenas Immigration Detention Centre in Johor Baru. The remaining four persons werearrested under the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act of 2007 and are also detained,” the Foreign Ministry release added.

“At present, investigations are still underway and Sri Lanka High Commission officials in Malaysia are working closely with the relevant Malaysian authorities in this connection.

“While the identities of the 131 persons are still in the process of being determined, initial information indicate that 43 of the 131 persons arrested hold identity cards issued by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)?,” the statement added.

Meanwhikle, foreign news agency reports said, Malaysian police intercepted a modified tanker carrying 131 Sri Lankans on Tuesday (May 1) morning, busting a human-smuggling ring that has been transporting illegal immigrants to Australia and New Zealand.