UN: Abbott’s anti-asylum seeker plan could be illegal

AUSTRALIA could be breaching international laws by forcing boats carrying asylum seekers back to Indonesian waters, the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees has warned, as it asks the Federal Government for an explanation of the practice.

Fairfax Media reports the UNHCR is also seeking details about reported government plans to buy boats that could be used to accommodate asylum seekers in future push-backs.

UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards said at a press briefing in Geneva they "would be concerned by any policy or practice pushing back asylum-seeker boats at sea without a proper consideration of individual needs for protection".

"Any such approach would raise significant issues and potentially place Australia in breach of its obligations under the Refugee Convention and other international law obligations," he said.

The Government on Friday received a request for a briefing from the UNHCR and it will be raised with the Minister for Immigration Scott Morrison tomorrow.