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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs                    8 August 2011

Delay in asylum transfers to Malaysia

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A High Court judge has ordered a delay in the transfer of the first asylum seekers from Australia to Malaysia under a swap deal signed by both countries.

The Australian Associated Press said an injunction seeking to stop the deportation of the asylum seekers was sought at a special hearing of the court here yesterday evening.

Justice Kenneth Hayne ordered that the asylum seekers, who were due to leave Australia at 11.30am (AEST) on Monday, not depart before 4.15pm (AEST) pending the hearing of another application in the High Court in Canberra at 2.15pm (AEST).

The High Court proceedings were launched by lawyer David Manne from the Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre here.

The Australian federal government last month signed a deal to send 800 asylum seekers to Malaysia in return for accepting 4,000 processed refugees.

It had been reported yesterday that the first batch was due to arrive in Malaysia early this week to be temporarily placed at a center, which was a former resort, about 100 kilometers from Kuala Lumpur.

Meanwhile, another boat carrying asylum seekers has been intercepted in Australian waters. It was the second vessel to be stopped since the Australian government signed its controversial swap deal with Malaysia last month.

There are thought to be 50 passengers and two crew on board.

“The passengers will be taken to Christmas Island for pre-transfer assessments pending removal to Malaysia,” Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor said in a statement.

The boat was intercepted northeast of Christmas Island yesterday morning.

The first 54 asylum seekers picked up after the swap deal was signed between Canberra and Kuala Lumpur are due to be flown to Malaysia within days.

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