1 September 2011
The High Court of Australia has ruled that the Malaysian refugee swap is unlawful, dealing a huge blow to the Gillard government for which the handling of border protection has become an important political issue. Under the deal, Australia was to send 800 asylum-seekers to Malaysia, in return accepting 4000 refugees from Malaysia over four years. However, in a six-to-one decision, the court found the minister could not validly process asylum-seekers in a third country unless that country was bound under law to provide effective protection for them while their refugee status was determined. That protection must be enshrined either in domestic law or in the form of international instruments, such as the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which Malaysia has not signed.