The Government of Sri Lanka strongly refutes allegations contained in certain foreign media reports that the Sri Lanka Navy had detained and harassed Indian fishermen aboard fishing trawlers which had been detected poaching in Sri Lankan waters.
In this regard, the Foreign Ministry wishes to state that the Sri Lanka Navy shore based radars at Talaimannar and Delft island detected approximately 300 Indian fishing trawlers poaching in Sri Lankan territorial waters close to Talaimannar and Delft island, heading towards the uncleared area of Vedithalthivu around 11.30 hours on 02 July 2008. Following the receipt of credible information that the LTTE was attempting to the use the presence of the trawlers for terrorist activities, Sri Lanka Navy boats rushed to the area and checked 289 trawlers and after conducting inquiries, permitted the trawlers to leave with the crew back into the Indian waters. At no point were the fishermen harassed by the Navy personnel or subjected to any humiliation as alleged in certain media reports.
It may be recalled that Tamil Nadu fishermen themselves have on several occasions acknowledged the humanitarian assistance rendered by the Sri Lanka Navy to them at times of distress at sea. It is the consistent policy of the Government of Sri Lanka and the Sri Lanka Navy to treat fishermen apprehended in Sri Lankan waters in a humanitarian manner.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Colombo 04 July 2008