Aust Gov must compensate children illegally detained - ALA

27th Jul 2012

The Australian Lawyers Alliance is calling on the Australian Government to pay compensation to children who have been illegally detained in this country on suspicion of people smuggling following the release of a damning Human Rights Commission report on the matter today.

The report, An Age of Uncertainty, which shows clear breaches of international law by the Australian Government, when dealing with children, also raises questions about our criminal justice system in relation to the detention of minors.

“The Australian Lawyers Alliance lodged a submission with the Federal Government on this very issue back in February, yet blatant disregard continues to been given to calls made by ALA, along with other human rights lawyers, on the treatment of children,” ALA spokesman and barrister, Greg Barns, said.

In its submission the ALA said aged determination processes needed to be fair and comparable to best standards of practice; wrist x-ray tests abolished; and those presenting as minors assumed to be so unless proven otherwise by the prosecution.

“The Australian Federal Police and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions appear to have played little regard to important human rights principles in the way that they have treated Indonesian teenagers alleged to have been part of people smuggling operations,” Mr Barns said.

“What the report shows is that there is no culture of human rights respect in both State and Commonwealth law enforcement and correction agencies dealing with young Indonesians and that securing convictions is taking precedence over ensuring human rights are respected.

"The HRC report clearly shows that politicians must shoulder much of the blame. All political parties, with exception of the Greens, have created a climate of hysteria around people smuggling and remain shamefully silent about the treatment of arrested minors.

"The mental and physical harm to vulnerable young Indonesians, in particular, when placed in hostile adult prisons, will be immense and is reprehensible. The Australian government must compensate these children following the abject failure of a system to exercise the appropriate duty of care.”

Tags: Human rights Compensation Asylum seekers and refugees People smuggling