Australia says a group of 83 Sri Lankan asylum seekers, now undergoing health and identity checks on Christmas Island, will not be sent anywhere if there is risk of persecution.
The undertaking has been given by the immigration minister, Kevin Andrews.
The boat people arrived from Indonesia and Australia has been in talks with Jakarta for their possible return .
But Mr Andrews says if they go back they must be under the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
A senior Indonesian immigration official says it will send the Sri Lankans straight back to their homeland if they are returned to Indonesia.