A total of 62,338 Sri Lankans are currently on the country’s blacklist and are prevented from leaving the country, unless they obtain prior Court approval, senior State intelligence sources revealed yesterday.
According to the sources, who cannot be named for obvious reasons, the figure includes close to a 30,000 security force personnel starting from the lowest ranks to senior most officers with some of them facing various charges in the country’s Courts.
Most of the SF personnel are on the list for being Absent Without Leave (AWL) while there are those who are facing criminal charges in various Courts, they said.
The figure also includes persons from a cross section of the political divide, clergymen, fraudsters, bigamists, sympathizers of the Tamil Diaspora, religious extremists, suspected human smugglers, narcotic kingpins and the list goes on, they said.
They added that the State intelligence agencies, along with other stakeholders such as the Immigration and Emigration Department and the civil aviation authorities, are currently in possession of state-of-the-art equipment to detect wanted persons seeking to flee the country from the BIA.
It was only earlier this month that a controversial Buddhist monk, currently involved in a Court case, regarding an elephant calf, was stopped at passport control after it was found that he was on the travel ban list. It was later revealed that a mix up in the court dates had led to the incident, taking the monk, who was billed to attend a Buddhist forum in London, unawares.
Earlier this year a frontline member of the so-called Tamil Eelam Government in exile was stopped at the BIA while attempting to enter the country along with his family.
The man and his family were later sent back on a scheduled flight to Bangkok despite desperate efforts by certain local politicians to let them enter the country.
Immigration and Emigration Controller Nihal Ranasinghe had earlier stated that several steps will be taken, starting from the beginning of next year, aimed at stopping irregularities at the BIA, that include a closer screening of passengers arriving and departing from the country, including suspected human traffickers.
He stated that an Integrated Border Management System (IBMS), comprising officials from the State Intelligence Services, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the Immigration and Emigration Department and others will also be set up towards this end.
With the setting up of the IBMS, it is also hoped to rope in errant BIA State-operatives who are known to be on the take, officials added.