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Australia court to hear challenge to secretive immigration policies

Published on Jul 8, 2014 9:26 AM
Two people hold placards at a rally protesting the Australian government's treatment of Sri Lankam asylum-seekers in Sydney on July 7, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - Australia's High Court will hear an emergency application on Tuesday to stop the government from handing 153 asylum seekers intercepted at sea back to Sri Lanka, a major challenge to the secrecy and validity of Australia's tough immigration policies.

Lawyer George Newhouse, who is representing 48 people on board the boat, won an interim injunction late Monday preventing government action on the boat until Tuesday's court hearing.

The legal action follows the interception and return on Sunday of 41 other Sri Lankan asylum seekers on a separate boat by Australian authorities.

Sri Lankan police said on Monday those 41 would be charged with leaving the country illegally and any found guilty would face "rigorous imprisonment", raising fears about rights abuses.

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