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Monday, August 8, 2011

Asylum Seeker Swap on U Tube

To make sure that the government's message gets out to the people smugglers, the Immigration Department will film the first group of asylum seekers as they are moved from Christmas Island, onto a plane and then into accommodation in Malaysia. The PM has given authority to police to use force if necessary and said "Obeying instructions here is not a question of volunteering." The first group of 16 people were scheduled to depart at 11.30 am today.

But they forgot about the lawyers and the High Court. In a special hearing last night, Justice Kenneth Hayne ordered a temporary injunction to stop their removal until at least 4.15 pm. Refugee lawyer David Manne says it gives them time to make a case that sending them to Malaysia is unlawful because they fear religious persecution.

His team of lawyers represent 40 asylum seekers, including six children but the injunction only affects the 16 men who were leaving today. According to the law, they say that Chris Bowen is the legal guardian of these children who are extremely fearful and distressed, and sending them to Malaysia would not be in their best interests.

A spokesman for Mr Bowen said the government is not surprised at the legal challenge. "No one should doubt our resolve on this" he said.