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Sri Lanka says in touch with Malaysia over detained boat people

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is in touch with Malaysian authorities after a ship full of boatpeople bound for Australia and New Zealand was detained, with 131 suspected Sri Lankans of which at least 43 had United Nations refugee identification papers.

Malaysian police had said nearly 100 Sri Lankan men, 24 women and 9 children were aboard the vessel, which was a modified tanker named ‘Etra’.

"At present, investigations are still underway, and officials of the Sri Lanka High Commission in Malaysia are working closely with the relevant Malaysian authorities in this connection," Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry said.

The statement said 131 persons believed to be Sri Lankans, were detained on May 01, and 127 are now at Pekan Nenas Immigration Detention Centre in Johor Baru.

Of that 43 had had identity papers issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry said, indicating that they were probably already resident in a third country.

The other four detained have been arrested under Malaysia’s Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act of 2007.

Another three Indonesian and four Malaysian who were on a fishing boat that was ferrying the refugees to the bigger vessel had also been arrested.


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