Children illegally kept in adult jail may be entitled to bring claims

21st Dec 2016

Children who are being detained in adult jails may be entitled to bring a claim for false imprisonment, following a ruling in the Victorian Supreme Court, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said today.

Earlier today the Court ruled that jailing children in adult prisons is illegal and that all young people currently in adult detention must be removed by 4pm tomorrow and transferred to another remand centre in Victoria.

Australian Lawyers Alliance spokesperson and Barrister Greg Barns said that the children should not have been in adult detention in the first place.

“This should be a lesson that putting children in adult detention is unlawful and should never be contemplated,” Mr Barns said.

“These kids may now have an entitlement for a claim for false imprisonment for being detained in such a manner.”

“Australia’s human rights record has already been damaged in light of treatment of indigenous people and asylum seekers, and this is just another mark on the system,” Mr Barns said.

“International law requires that the best interest of the child be a priority and that detention be used only as a last resort, for the shortest period of time. 

“Children should only ever be detained as a last resort, and for the shortest amount of time possible, with genuine efforts made at rehabilitation,” Mr Barns said.

This ruling also demonstrates the importance of human rights protections at the state level, Mr Barns noted.

“In referring to the Victorian Human Rights Charter in its judgement, the Court confirmed that these instruments make a real difference to peoples’ lives. These children would not have the same level of protection in jurisdictions without human rights legislation”, Mr Barns said.

Tags: Human rights