The Sri Lankan navy has detained 38 people, including several children, off the coast of Amparai this week, claiming that they were attempting to flee the island.
According to the Navy media unit, the detainees comprise 26 men, 5 women, and 7 children. The migrants are residents of the Jaffna, Vavuniya, Valachchenai, Chilaw, Kalpitiya, Udappuwa, Ja-Ela and Negombo regions.
The case has now reportedly been transferred over to the Panama Police, for legal action to be pursued.
The Sri Lankan navy claimed that the group were attempting to flee to Australia.
On May 24 and June 9, the Australian government sent back groups of 12 and 15 migrants respectively to Sri Lanka, after intercepting the attempts to reach Australia by sea.
The Sri Lankan armed forces too have stepped up patrols in recent weeks, blocking and detaining several groups who have attempted to flee the island – mainly from the Tamil North-East.