8 Aug 2011

Court extends injunction over refugee swap deal

10:06 pm on 8 August 2011

The Australian government's refugee swap deal with Malaysia is on hold after a court extended an injunction to prevent 16 asylum seekers being removed from Christmas Island.

Under the deal, 800 asylum seekers would be sent to Malaysia and Australia would accept 4000 registered refugees from Malaysia in return.

The group would have been the first asylum seekers to be sent to Malaysia under the agreement, but their lawyers have convinced the High Court that it should consider whether the swap is legal under Australian law, the ABC reports.

The lawyers argue that because Malaysia is not a signatory to the United Nations' Refguee Convention, Australia cannot guarantee the safety of people sent there.

But government lawyers told the court the minister did satisfy himself the asylum seekers would be safe and has complied with Australian law.

The Australian government has also warned the court of the need for haste, saying the progress of the case is being monitored by those affected by the deal.