20 May 2002

Australia's immigration ministry denies reports of refugee-swapping deal

2:33 pm on 20 May 2002

A spokesman for Australian immigration minister, Philip Ruddock, says there is no deal between the US and Australia to resolve the problem of asylum seekers being held in camps outside Australian territory by trading them for Haitian and Cuban asylum seekers held by US authorities.

The minister's media spokesman, Steve Ingram, says the announcement this week that Australia has accepted a family of Haitians held by the US is not part of a refugee swap deal.

Mr Ingram says there has been no deal and he is unaware of any talks on the issue.

An Australian newspaper report had claimed that the Australian government had agreed to accept an increasing number of Haitian and Cuban asylum seekers in exchange for the US accepting some of the boatpeople held on Nauru and on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.