Asylum seekers including children could be tasered in refugee swap deal with Malaysia

The Australian government has not ruled out using weapons such as stun guns and tear gas on aslyum seekers - including children - as part of its refugee swap deal with Malaysia.

The country's Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has been slammed by a lawyers' group for giving the Australian Federal Police "carte blanche" in the use of "potential lethal force" to herd asylum seekers onto aircraft, The ABC reports.

The Australian Lawyers Alliance said the police should not be allowed to use stun guns to force asylum seekers onto planes bound for Kuala Lumpur detention centres as part of the government's so-called Malaysia solution, it reports.

Under the agreement with Malaysia, the Federal Government has pledged to put asylum seekers on aircraft within 72 hours of their arrival on Christmas Island in exchange for taking 800 genuine aslyum seekers for permanent settlement.

Ms Gillard said "we will do what is necessary" to make sure asylum seekers obey orders, and there will be no "blanket exemptions" for children, ABC reports.

An Australian Federal Police spokesman told ABC News Online that officers will be empowered to use "the same options" they can use on the mainland.

It reports:

According to internal AFP documents, these include Tasers, batons, tear gas, capsicum spray and handcuffs, but the guidelines emphasise that the "minimum force reasonably necessary" should be used.

On Christmas Island, another resettlement place for asylum seekers, north of the mainland, AFP officers have also used bean-bag bullets - cartridges fired from a shotgun designed to stun but not cause serious injury.

The president of the Australian Lawyers Alliance, Greg Barns, has condemned the practice of using weapons - especially stun guns.

"These weapons are really dangerous. Serious injury and death have resulted from the use of Tasers," he told ABC News Online.

He accused Ms Gillard of giving federal police officers permission to use "fatal weaponry on people who are traumatised".

"These are vulnerable people who, in many cases, have been brutalised by police in their own country," Mr Barns said.

"This is heavy-handed, jackbooted and unnecessary. She's using this for short-term political gain.

"When you allow the AFP to use Tasers that could lead to death, it is a recipe for disaster. She is playing politics with human life.

"It's herding cattle - we herd you onto a plane and we herd you off at the other end and you put up with the treatment you get."

The first boat of people to be processed under the Malaysian solution was intercepted on Sunday and is due to arrive in the next few days on Christmas Island for processing before being sent on to Malaysia, AAP reports.

It held 54 mainly male Afghan, Iraqi and Iranian refugees and two crew. It is not known if there are any children on the boat.

Speaking on ABC Radio this morning, Ms Gillard said: "Obeying instructions here is not a question of volunteering. We are determined to get this done."

"The Australian Federal Police can speak on operational matters, but we will do what is necessary to ensure that people who are taken to Malaysia under the agreement are taken."

The AFP said in a statement that officers deployed to Christmas Island and to the staging and departure areas for flights will have a range of use-of-force options available to them, ABC reports.

"The AFP has strict use of force guidelines which are designed to respond to violent confrontations with the minimum use of force and minimum risk to all parties involved in an incident," the statement said.