Malaysia and Australia pen refugee-swapping agreement

Malaysia and Australia today signed an agreement to swap refugees and asylum seekers.

The deal, the first of its kind in the world, is aimed in the long run at  checking human trafficking and other cross border criminal activities.

The pact, which takes effect at midnight, is for the exchange of 4,000 refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia for 800 in Australia over four years.

Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein signed for Malaysia while Australian Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Chris Bowen represented his country.

Hishammuddin told reporters after the signing: “We are sending a very strong message to the human traffickers that we are taking this matter very seriously.”

[More to follow]