Fate of group held on ship back before court

The High Court challenge on behalf of more than 150 asylum seekers being held on an Australian customs ship on the high seas will resume on Friday.

Lawyers representing the asylum seekers are seeking a declaration that the Abbott government acted unlawfully and an injunction on them being taken to Sri Lanka, Nauru, Papua New Guinea or any other country that has not assumed non-refoulement obligations. The directions hearing, before Justice Susan Crennan in Melbourne and via video link in Sydney, will be followed by a full hearing of the case early next month.

The boat, whose passengers initially spoke with Fairfax Media on June 27, was believed to have been intercepted that weekend. Lawyers say the asylum seekers are being held behind locked doors, with no freedom of movement.

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said on Thursday Australia's international reputation was being damaged by the treatment of the 153 asylum seekers being held.

''It's outrageous that the Abbott government is holding children behind locked doors on a secret prison ship in the middle of the Indian Ocean,'' she said.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said during question time that the Coalition would ''never give an inch to people smugglers''.

''When it comes to the people smugglers, our campaign against them is succeeding,'' he said.

This story Fate of group held on ship back before court first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.