High Court Considers Case of Asylum Seekers Being Returned to Sri Lanka

In this Friday, June 27, 2014 photo, Sri Lankan army soldiers stand guard at a Muslim neighborhood in Darga Town in Aluthgama about 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of Colombo, Sri Lanka. The onslaught by the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), a hardline Buddhist group, killed two Muslims in the worst religious violence Sri Lanka has seen in decades. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
In this Friday, June 27, 2014 photo, a Sri Lankan Muslim man helps army soldiers salvage damaged household items from the debris of a burnt house in Darga Town in Aluthgama about 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of Colombo, Sri Lanka. The onslaught by the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), a hardline Buddhist group, killed two Muslims in the worst religious violence Sri Lanka has seen in decades. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
In this Friday, June 27, 2014 photo, a Sri Lankan Muslim man helps army soldiers salvage damaged household items from the debris of a burnt house in Darga Town in Aluthgama about 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of Colombo, Sri Lanka. The onslaught by the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), a hardline Buddhist group, killed two Muslims in the worst religious violence Sri Lanka has seen in decades. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

(Sydney Morning Herald) – More than 150 asylum seekers, including around 40 children, face being in limbo on the high seas for weeks in an Australian customs vessel while their fate is decided in the High Court.

Lawyers for the Abbott government and the asylum seekers agreed on a timetable for court action on Tuesday after the government promised to give 72 hours notice in writing if it intended to hand the asylum seekers to Sri Lankan authorities.

Under the timetable, a directions hearings will be held within three weeks, raising the question of where the asylum seekers will be held in the interim.

During the hearings, the government revealed that it had intercepted a boat carrying the asylum seekers outside Australia’s migration zone and transferred them to a customs vessels.

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