The 157 Tamils held for almost a month on board an Australian Navy vessel travelled to the Cocos Islands and from there to the Curtin detention centre in Western Australia, making them the first asylum seekers to reach the Australian mainland in six months. Human rights lawyers questioned the legality of the Australian government’s decision to allow officials from India, where the boat originated, to interview the asylum seekers.
Documents filed in the High Court showed that the National Security Committee, chaired by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, decided that the boat’s passengers should not be taken to Australia two days after it was intercepted.
Police in Puducherry, India, arrested two men on charges of renting out the boat they own to Tamils trying to reach Australia.
Meanwhile, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison granted a permanent protection visa to a 15-year-old Ethiopian boy, after previously insisting the boy, who reached Australia by stowing away on a ship, would have his application rejected under a new ‘national interest’ test.