via Abbott government documents show 157 asylum seekers detained on high seas allowed three hours of natural light a day.
Family members among 157 asylum seekers being held on the high seas are being held in separate rooms on a customs vessel but are allowed out for meals, according to documents lodged with the High Court on Tuesday.
While it was previously stated that 153 asylum seekers were on board a boat that was intercepted off Christmas Island more than three weeks ago, the documents say the actual number is 157.
A document filed by the Abbot government reveals that the national security committee of cabinet decided on July 1, two days after the boat was intercepted, that those on board “should be taken to a place other than Australia”.
Their document says the asylum seekers are permitted “approximately three hours’ outside during the day in natural light for meals”, but says it would be unsafe to give them unrestricted movement.
The national security committee of cabinet includes Prime Minister Tony Abbott, deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Treasurer Joe Hockey, Attorney-General George Brandis, Defence Minister David Johnston and Immigration Minister Scott Morrison.
The document maintains they were acting within the scope of the Maritime Powers Act in detaining the asylum seekers on the customs vessel and had no obligation to afford them procedural fairness.
A challenge to the decision to hold the asylum seekers indefinitely on the high seas and not allow their claims to be assessed on Christmas Island is now being fought on behalf on one of the male asylum seekers on board.
In their defence, the government does not admit that he has family members on the vessel but confirms the asylum seekers are being held in three rooms, and that “families cannot be accommodated together while maintaining appropriate separation between men, women and children”.
A directions hearing is set for today.