Australian Home Minister Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, right, addresses the media as Sri Lanka’s navy commander Piyal De Silva watches in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Tuesday, June 4, 2019. Dutton has laid a wreath and offered condolences for the Easter Sunday bomb attacks in Sri Lanka on a visit to the South Asian island nation. Dutton visited St. Sebastian’s Church in the seaside town of Negombo, one of three churches attacked April 21. (Eranga Jayawardena/Associated Press)

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton on Tuesday warned human smugglers and people seeking to enter Australia by boat not to do so, emphasizing that the government continues to enforce the country’s tough border protection policy.

Dutton, on a two-day visit to Sri Lanka, held talks with his counterparts and other officials on measures aimed at deterring human smuggling.

His visit comes a week after Australia sent back 20 Sri Lankans who tried to enter Australia by boat and after Sri Lanka’s navy separately arrested another 41 in a boat heading to Australia.

Dutton said although there was a lull in human smuggling recently, “we’ve just seen an uptick in activity in the last month or so, which has caused this concern.”

“Again, my message is very clear: that if you seek to come to Australia by boat you will just not be successful,” he said.

Sri Lankan and Australian authorities are cooperating to combat human smuggling. In a bid to boost Sri Lanka’s maritime security, Australia provided two vessels to Sri Lanka’s coast guard in 2014 and 2017.

Since the implementation of Australia’s toughest-ever border protection measures in 2013, the country has intercepted and turned back or returned 847 people from 35 people smuggling ventures, including more than 165 Sri Lankan nationals.

Those who are trying to enter by sea are intercepted and sent to the Pacific island nations of Papua New Guinea and Nauru, amid international criticism.

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